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Full text of "The Hazelhurst mystery : a novel"

L I E> R.A FlY 

OF THE 

U N IVLR5ITY 

or ILLINOIS 

823 
L777h 
V.2 



THE 



HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



THE 



HAZELHUR8T MYSTERY. 



% lotel. 



BY 



JESSIE SALE LLOYD. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON: 

Tl^'SLKY IJIiOTHERS, s, OATflEPtlNH STREET, STRAND. 
1877. 

[Right of Tramlution reserved by the Author.'] 



LOITDOX : 

8AVILL, EDWAED8 ANT) CO., PRINTERS, CHXKDOS STBEET, 

COVBNT GAEDEN. 






CONTENTS 

OF 

THE SECOND VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGB 

1. MARRIED AGAIN 1 

II. TWO GHOSTS 19 

•III. MISS ansell's letter 4-0 

IV. GEORGE SEES A GHOST 58 

V. THE GREAT MYSTERY 85 

VI. FATE 119 

VII. HARRY CARTLAND's CONFESSION 130 

VIII. MISS ANSELL DOES HER DUTY 163 

IX. HOPES AND FEARS 168 

X. beryl's CHOICE 187 

XI. gone! 196 

XII. dead! 201 

XIII. conclusion 224 



THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



CHAPTER I. 

MARRIED AGAIN. 




EOEGE GRAFTON, after some 
time answered the sad letters he 
had received announcing the death 
of his wife, but to Dr. Cartland he entered 
on his feelings as he did not to the others, 
telling him that he trusted to him to do in 
his absence whatever might be needful, as 
he should probably never again return to 
England, where he would be so forcibly 
reminded of his lost happiness. 

Kate had been dead a year and a-half, 

VOL. TI. 1 



2 THE HAZBLHUEST MYSTERY. 

and Beryl had reached her eighteenth 
birthday. Of late the childishness of her 
nature had left her, she was now at seven- 
teen years of age, a quiet and gentle woman, 
a mignonne little creature, very sweet to 
look upon. Her rippling fair hair, with 
the sun shining upon it, seemed like a halo 
around her innocent face, while the blue 
eyes would give out flashes of love-light 
when they rested on Greorge, and the coral 
lips would smile happily. Ko one looking 
on would fail to read her secret, yet George 
Grrafton was ignorant of it, thinking of her 
still as the child whom it was his duty to 
protect — of whom he had grown as fond as 
if she had been his own daughter, or 
younger sister, nothing more. Other love 
he had none to give, it was buried with his 
dead wife. So he never saw the light in 
Beryl's eyes that silently, though eloquently. 



MARKIED AGMN. 



spoke of love for him. Every one knew 
that Beryl Chantler was in love with George 
Grafton, except George Grafton himself 
But people did not give him credit for this 
want of knowledge, and began to make 
unkind remarks upon the intimacy. If 
Grafton kept that girl in his household, 
the}^ said, he ought to make her his wife. 
She was too young and too beautiful to live 
under the roof of a man of his age. 

So poor innocent George was blamed un- 
deservedly, without the least knowledge that 
he was supposed to be acting wrongly by 
Beryl. 

He had planned for his overseer and his 
wife to live in his house and arrange it ; 
this he supposed would satisfy Mrs. Grundy, 
and he had thought no more about it, having 
no idea what a disagreeable mischief-maker 
that good lady could prove. 

1—2 



4 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

These remarks began rolling about like 
distant thunder, when George's year of 
mourning was over ; then people supposed 
he would announce his engagement, but as 
time went on and he said nothing, the 
thunder grew decidedly louder, and the 
lightning more forked, and now the storm 
was at its height ! 

The clergyman had made up his mind to 
*' have an explanation with Mr. Grafton," 
and asked him to dinner for this end. 

His name was Summers, and Charles 
Summers was his eldest and dearly loved 
son, who had left Ceylon shortly after taking 
George and Beryl there; had been back 
with his ship several times, on each occasion 
getting more and more enamoured with the 
fairy-like Beryl, but keeping the secret of 
his love closely locked up in his own heart. 

Jt was only when he again returned and 



MAERIED AGAIN. 



heard all that was said of George and his 
idol, that he really knew how deep that love 
was, and he went straight to his father and 
confessed the whole truth, and Mr. Summers 
determined to " have it out with George." 

The day of the dinner arrived, but with 
Mrs. and Miss Summers at the table nothing 
was said, and George was terribly "taken 
aback/' when the three gentlemen being left 
alone, Mr. Summers suddenly turned to him 
and said, " When is your marriage to take 
place, Grafton?" 

George turned white to the lips. 

" I do not understand you, sir ! I thought 
you knew that I have lost a wife I dearly 
loved, and that I could never replace her." 

" I am sorry to hear this, Grafton ; very 
sorry. I had hoped that your intentions 
towards that young and friendless girl were 
honourable, at least." 



6 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" What friendless girl ?" cried George. 
" You cannot mean my little Beryl, she is a 
child, Mr. Summers ! " 

" She is, I suppose, seventeen or eighteen, 
and at any rate she is woman enough to love 
you I 

" Poor child," said George, " she is very 
fond of me. I knew her parents, you know, 
your son I daresay has told you how she 
came to me, and I hope I have done my 
duty by her, and made her as happy as I 
can. She has been a great comfort to me 
in my trouble, Mr. Summers, I assure you." 

" If you don't mean to marry her, you are 
doing her a great wrong in keeping her 
under your roof, make all the amends you 
can. I will receive her until you can make 
arrangements for sending her to your 
friends." 

George pondered. 



MAERIED AGAIN. 



" Do you really mean that any remarks 
have been made upon Beryl Chantler living 
in my house. Why, Mr. Summers, you must 
know, must have seen a hundred times, that 
I have a housekeeper — a woman of staid age 
— the wife of my overseer — the thing is 
absurd !" 

"Absurd or no, you must show people 
that they have made a mistake, and you 
-must send Miss Chantler to England." 

" Poor Beryl," said George, " she will feel 
going among strangers very much. I wish 
she would marry ; but if this foolish story 
gets about it would injure her, I fear." 

Charles Summers flushed over face and 
■brow, and then spoke earnestly. 

" Grrafton, I love Miss Chantler. I know 
she is as innocent as she is beautiful. I will 
shield her from any remarks, and will most 
proudly make her my wife if you think 



8 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

she will take me. I, like others, believed 
her love yours, and that you were only 
waiting to marry her until your time of 
mourning had expired ; if I have wronged 
you, forgive me and be my friend with 
Beryl." 

George Grafton took the young sailor's 
hand. 

" My time of mourning will never expire 
till I do, Summers. I always fancied you 
cared for Beryl. I sincerely wish you success, 
my dear boy. I believe you are a good 
fellow, Summers, and that if Beryl consents,. 
you will make her happy. '^ 

" Thank you, thank you, Grafton, I would 
lay down my life for her," and the young 
sailor seemed quite overcome by his emotion. 

''When may I go to her?" he asked. 

" Whenever you like — noio if you please, 
or lunch with me to-morrow." 



MARRIED AGAIN. 



Mr. Summers here interrupted them. 

"Not to-night, Charles — sleep upon it. 
Consider well if it will be advisable for you 
to propose to Miss Chantler. I own, under 
the circumstances, I consider it an unfortu- 
nate infatuation. Still, if it be for your 
happiness, I will not refuse to receive her 
as a daughter, for like yourself I believe her 
to be an innocent girl ; but it would be in- 
decorous for you to go to the house, know- 
ing Mr. Grafton to be absent.'' 

When the gentlemen parted, after a 
great deal of talk, Charles whispered to 
George to " speak a good word for him " to- 
morrow morning, and George promised. 

After breakfast next morning, instead of 
going off to his work as usual, George lin- 
gered in the room. He found it very diffi- 
cult to tell Beryl what he had to say, but at 
last he broke the ice. 



10 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" Beryl/' lie said, " come and sit by me/' 
and she took up her old place at his feet, 
looking with her sweet smile confidingly up 
in his face. 

"My little Beryl/' he said, his hand 
wandering amidst her waving tresses, " it 
has been a great comfort to me to have you 
with me, but I am going to break up my 
home here and travel, and we must part. 
Beryl. You have been a daughter to the 
lonely man, dear child, and have helped me 
to bear my sorrow ; but we must part now. 
Beryl ! You have gained the love of an 
honest man, dear, and I hope to leave you 
the happy wife of Charles Summers. He 
is devoted to you, small Beryl — a second 
Samson and Delilah — and I hope you will 
try and return his love. It would make me 
happier to think of you in such safe hands, 
dear child. Beryl ! try to make him happy. 



MARRIED AGAIN. II 

but if you cannot give him a wife's love I 
must send you to England to my mother. 
She is a good soul, and you will find her 
^nd my sisters kind, but I would rather 
you had a home of your own." 

Beryl had listened with uncertain colour, 
and when he stopped she raised her eyes to 
his — such earnest, reproachful eyes, and 
withal so determined. 

" I will not leave you," she answered. 

" But, Beryl, child, you 7mist. I am 
going to travel." 

"I will go with you, Mr. Grrafton." 

A look of pain passed over his face. 

"Child! child! how am I to deal with 
jou?" 

" I am not a child now, Mr. G-rafton. 
Say whatever you wish to me ; I shall 
•understand you." 

'' Well, I believe it will be best to tell 



12 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

you the truth, Beryl. People are cruel 
enough to misjudge me for keeping you 
here with me. After that, I should do you 
a grievous wrong to let you stay." 

Beryl Chantler turned deadly pale, but 
showed by no other sign that she under- 
stood his words. 

" Do you understand me, child ?" he 
asked, with a shade of impatience in his 
voice. 

" Yes," she answered, " I understand.'^ 

" And now. Beryl," he said, in a tone of 
relief, " you see why you cannot stay with 
me. 

" 1 see, Mr. Grafton, that you are alone 
in the world, and that for my sake you 
would give up your home. I see," she 
added, with rising colour, " that I have no 
one in this dreary world but you, my friend 
and protector, and though I feel the cruelty 



MAERIED AGAIN. 13 

of the remarks made upon such, kindness as 
yours, I will not leave you." 

'' Beryl, child ! if you wish to please me, 
you will accept my friend, Charles Summers ; 
he is worthy of your love. Please me by 
marrying him, dear." 

"Mr. Grafton, I cannot." 

" Beryl ! naughty Beryl ! What am I 
to do with you? Will you go home to my 
mother?" 

^' George," she cried, and large tears 
gathered in her eyes, " don't send me away ! 
I love you. I love only you in all the wide, 
wide world. Never send me from you. I 
cannot go. I don't ask much," she pleaded. 
'' I know, oh ! how well I know, your heart 
is with her ; but let me be your little Beryl 
still, as I have been now for so long. I can 
comfort you, George. I can make your life 
less lonesome to you, that is all I ask, let 



14 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



me be with you ; never send me away/^ 
And Beryl hid her tearful face, half- 
ashamed at her own boldness. 

George Grafton was troubled — more 
troubled than words could express. He rose 
and left the room, and with hasty and 
uneven strides walked up and down, down 
and up, his garden. 

"What can a man do, with a woman 
who is such a child ! and yet the child is a 
true woman ! Beryl, Beryl, what can I do 
with you ?" 

Charles Summers at last arrived, and 
asked eagerly whether George had said 
anything to Beryl. 

" Yes !" said he, " I have told her my 
wishes on the subject, but she is such a 
strange child, I cannot make her out. 
Summers," he exclaimed, after a pause, *' try 
your best with her ! it is a matter of the 



MAEEIED AGAIN. 15 

utmost import to me that she should marry. 
I have tried to explain to her what the 
world thinks of her position in my house ; 
but she is too innocent to understand it. 
There seems but a choice of two things ; if 
you don't marry her, I must, and God 
knows, how bitter it would be to me, to be 
unfaithful to the wife of my love ! I have 
walked up and down here for three hours, 
and have fought a hard battle with myself, 
and have come to this decision." 

Charles Summers looked at him, then 
grasped his hand. 

" You're a good fellow, Grafton. I see 
you wish me well with her, but sooner than 
her good name should be affected, you will 
sacrifice yourself for her sake. However it 
ends, God bless you 1 Now, shall I go to her?" 

" Yes, and God prosper your suit, for all 
our sakes." 



16 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

The luncheon-bell rang, and Greorge went 
in. He met Charles Summers at the door. 

" I can^t stop to-day, Grafton ! She wont 
have me at any price ; wont give me one ray 
of hope. George Grafton, she loves you 
with all her heart and soul. You will make 
her your wife?" 

" Yes, I will," said George ; " and I will 
try never to let her know what it has cost 
me." 

" We shall not meet again, Grafton," 
continued Charles Summers. " So long as 
I know you are in the island, I shall not 
return here. I shall hear about you all 
from my father. Good-by." 

The men shook hands again with a hearty 
grasp, and parted ; each with a heavy heart. 

When the shades of evening were closing 
in, George Grafton took Beryl by the hand, 
and led her out into the garden. 



MARRIED AGAIN. 17 

" Beryl, dear ! why did you refuse to be 
Charles Summers' wife ?" 

No answer. 

" If I had asked you instead, would you 
have refused me ?" 

Beryl burst into tears. 

" Answer me, little one ; do you love me 
enough to have said, Yes, if I, had asked 
you to be my wife ?" 

" I never knew you unkind before, Mr^ 
Grafton," she said, between her sobs. 
'' What pleasure can it be to you, to make 
me confess what I should do under impos- 
sible circumstances ?" 

" But, suppose they are not impossible 
circumstances ? Beryl, will you be my 
wife?" 

" You say it out of pity," she cried. 

" I say it. Beryl, because I wish it ;. 
because only as my wife I can keep you 

VOL. II. 2 



18 



THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



with me. Will you leave me, child, or will 
you be my wife ?" 

" I will be your wife, George," she 
answered, trembling painfully at the un- 
expected joy. " I will never leave you." 

So George Grafton took Beryl Ch antler 
to be his wedded wife, and vowed to love 
and to cherish her till death should them 
part. 




CHAPTER 11. 



TWO GHOSTS. 




EORGrE and Beryl did not leave 
Ceylon, but lived on, in the same 
liouse tliey had occupied for the last two 
years. Beryl had had one year of unalloyed 
happiness. Are there many who can say as 
much ? A whole year of satisfied love, and 
perfect contentment ; so who should say 
that Beryl had not done well with her life. 
Little loving Beryl clung to her husband 
as the ivy to the oak. The oak might 
have had no wish to wear the ivy, but he 
gives it his strength nevertheless, and never 
shows a sign of dissatisfaction ; and the ivy 
twines round him lovinglj^, and keeps him 



20 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

green amidst the wintry blasts, until he 
knows he would feel bare and cold without 
his feeble dependent. 

The ties that George had taken upon him 
out of a sense of duty had now become very 
dear to him. He could never love his little 
wife with the ecstatic devotion he had given 
to his stately, beautiful Kate. She had been 
a queen among women, and had commanded 
his worship and devotion ; but he grew very 
tender towards the fragile little creature who 
nestled in his breast and called him " hus- 
band" with such loving pride. They were 
very happy, these two — never dreaming of 
the days of blackness to come. 

" What trouble could reach her as George's 
wife, with him to take care of her ?" thought 
trustful Beryl, basking in the warmth of his 
love and kindness ; and yet there was a 
cloud in the horizon, no bigger than a man's 



TWO GHOSTS. 21 



hand as yet, and still unseen by them. 
The cloud was in this wise. 

Miss Ansell's lease was up, and her land- 
lord intending to live in the house himself, 
would not renew it, but he had a neat, old- 
fashioned cottage near Maidenhead, and if 
his tenant liked, she should have it at a 
moderate rent. Miss Ansell went and saw 
it, liked it, and concluded the bargain, little 
dreaming that the hand of Fate was leading 
her into a land of horror, madness, and 
death ; that her sense of duty would be put 
to the test for the exposure of sinners, and 
the breaking of the hearts of the good. 
Had she known it all, probably she would not 
have hesitated ; she knew but one creed, and 
that was duty. Duty was her God — God 
her duty. The cry of the Publican was 
foolishness to her ; she had no patience 
with those who did wrong, and then went 



22 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

cringing for forgiveness. She thanked 
Grod — like the Pharisee — did her duty, and 
needed no repentance. Dear, good, strong 
iceberg that she was. No ! ice will melt, 
but not so Miss Ansell. The simile is bad. 
She was of the hardest flint — of iron, of 
steel, a petrifaction — and yet she really 
always did what she conceived to be her 
duty, and, judged by the letter of the law, 
and weighed in the balance, she could not 
be found wanting, but she knew not 
" charity," and surely every other Christian 
virtue combined, fails to make harmou}' 
without that sweet key-note ; and Miss 
Ansell's life was out of tune, discordant, 
grating. In the old dispensation, when 
men took an eye for an eye, a tooth 
for a tooth, she would have been a fine 
specimen of humanity, but, judged by the 
light shed upon us by the undying love of 



TWO GHOSTS. 



a dying Saviour, Miss Ansell's religion was 
unlovely, not pure metal. 

She took possession of her cottage, and in 
due time had settled down into her old 
groove. She was a great walker, holding 
the doctrine that Grod would not have given 
people legs and feet if He had not intended 
them to be made use of, and old though she 
was she certainly made good use of hers. 
She went into Maidenhead twice a week 
to do her marketing ; and on one of these 
occasions she saw — Two Ghosts I 

A face from the dead, and a face of 
death. She was just about to cross the 
road, but waited for a carriage to pass. It 
was going at a rapid pace, drawn by two 
fast-stepping bays. It was a close carriage, 
and both the windows were up. It passed 
her as a flash of light, and yet she stood 
transfixed — rooted to the spot — for once in 



24 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

her life frightened out of her calm coldness, 
for she had seen two ghosts. 

She laid hold of the arm of a policeman 
who was passing. 

" Whose carriage was that ?" she cried. 

"Carriage?" said No. 101, coolly, "I 
don't see no carriage, mum." 

"There! there!" shrieked Miss Ansell. 
" There ! going away in that cloud of dust ! 
Quick — quick? I shall lose the clue !" 

The policeman eyed her keenly. Mad, or 
drunk ? was the problem he was trying to 
solve, and he paid but little attention to the 
receding vehicle, but her bony fingers 
clutched him with such a vigorous tenacity 
as to arouse his temper. 

" Come, ma'am, you'd better move on, or 
else I shall be under the painful necessity 
of taking you in charge for obstructing the 
thoroughfare, for assaulting me, and other- 



TWO GHOSTS. 25 

wise breaking the peace. Come — move on, 
I say" (as Miss Ansell showed no indina- 
tion to let him go). 

"Then you wont give me the. informa- 
tion I require?" she asked, resuming her 
usual manner. 

" I'm not paid to answer impertinent 
•questions. What does it matter to you 
whose carriage it was ? You didn't think 
as any one was running away with yours," 
he said ironically, " now did you ? because 
in that case, it would be my duty to help 
you, you know." 

Miss Ansell was shrewd ; and looking at 
the avaricious face before her, she said — 

" I'll give you half-a-crown for your in- 
formation." 

" Oh ! that alters the case," said he, 
smiling, " but in my profession the fees are 
jDaid in advance." 



26 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 



Miss Ansell took a well-worn leather 
purse from her pocket. It was never very 
full, and after the unusual expenses of 
moving, it was now particularly empty, but 
she selected, one shilling, a bent sixpence, 
two threepenny and one fourpenny bit, one 
English and one French penny, thereby 
making up the promised half-crown, and 
counted them into the policeman's ready 
palm, meanwhile taking a mental note of 
the number on his collar ! 

The man grinned at the motley little col- 
lection of coins, and transferred them to his 
pocket. He had not the remotest idea 
whose carriage had passed, but he knew 
that a Mr. Andrews, living close to 
Maidenhead, owned a similar vehicle to the 
one he had seen in the distance, so he made 
up his mind that it was the same, caring 



TWO GHOSTS. 27 



very little whether he was right or wrong, 
and he said, unhesitatingly — 

" The carriage belongs to Mr. Andrews, 
a retired City gent ; lives at Fair Lawn, 
about half a mile out." 

" Are you quite sure ?" Miss Ansell 
asked. 

" Quite ;" and they parted, each to go 
their own way — No. 101 to his favourite 
"public," on the strength of so much small 
change, and Miss Ansell straight to Fair 
Lawn. 

She went boldly to the hall door and 
knocked, asked if any one was at home, and 
was at once admitted and ushered into a 
gaudily-furnished room. On the table stood 
an enormous candelabra of solid silver, filled 
with gorgeous artificial flowers, magnificent 
cabinets stood around the room, on the top of 



28 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 



whicli were groups of alabaster and Parian 
marble figures, chiefly ?/;^draped; the walls 
were one mass of looking-glass, the corners 
of the room were cut off with inlet glass, 
making it octagonal in shape. There were 
panels of looking-glass all round the room ; 
what amount of wall was left ^dsible was 
painted — wreaths of flowers on a white 
ground. The curtains and furniture cover- 
ings were of richest yellow (almost orange) 
satin damask ; in fact, everything bespoke 
heaps of money and lack of taste. 

No one was in the room, and Miss Ansell 
liad ample time to take in her surroundings, 
which she could only compare with horror 
to her own holland-clad little chamber, and 
shudder at. A fit place to find her, indeed ! 
The house must belong to a Turk, and this 
must be his divan. Mr. Andrews ! and yet 
that other face — altered, but still his. Well 1 



TWO GHOSTS. 29 



whoever the place belonged to, it was self- 
evident that it was a den of iniquity. " What 
Christian would live in such rooms?" 

And then the door opened, and a large, 
handsome, vulgar-looking woman entered, 
and eyed Miss Ansell curiously. This 
woman looked kind and good-tempered ; but 
all that the old maid saw was that she was 
over-dressed, and was " powdered," and in 
her mind her character was simply gone. 

The large lady bowed, and waived Miss 
Ansell to a chair, but that virtuous creature 
would not bow to this " painted Jezebel/* 
as she had called her in her mind, nor 
would she sit down in such a house. The 
Venuses and Cupids round the room made 
her wish to hide her maiden head or their 
nakedness. She longed to be back in her 
own decent parlour, where even the legs of 
her pianoforte were clothed ; but here these 



so THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



nude figures stood boldly round on all 
sides, reflected everywhere by the everlasting 
mirrors. Whichever way she looked she 
could see them. She would have rushed 
from the room, but duty kept her there. 

The large lady sat down and began feel- 
ing for her purse. This nameless visitor 
must want a subscription, probably was the 
representative of some missionary society, or 
wished her signature to a petition for 
*' woman's rights." 

"You have come on behalf of some 
Society, I suppose ?" she said, with a good- 
humoured smile. '' Well, I shall be happy 
to subscribe. I consider the rich ought to 
help the poor. It is not in my line to go 
into dirty, stuffy cottages myself; but I am 
always ready to assist those who like that 
sort of thing. Now don't be afraid to tell 
me what you want, I have plenty of 



TWO GHOSTS. 31 

money/' and she rattled her well-filled 
purse. 

Miss Ansell took no notice whatever of 
what she should have seen at once was good- 
natured vulgarity, nothing worse. 

" Who are you ?" she demanded, sternly. 

Mrs. Andrews laughed till she shook. 

" I really think I ought to be offended at 
being asked such a question, but I suppose 
you don't mean to be rude, my good woman." 

''Is this Mr. Andrews' house?" asked 
Miss Ansell. 

"Yes. it is. We have purchased the 
freehold. Beautiful place, isn't it ?" 

'' And you are " interrupted the old 

maid. 

" I am Mrs. Andrews !" answered that 
lady, with conscious dignity. 

" And you have a dark green carriage, 
"drawn by two bay horses ?" 



32 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" We have." 

" And it has been out this morning — 
passed through Maidenhead about an hour 
ago? 

" Good gracious me!" cried Mrs. Andrews^ 
" what can you know about me or my car- 
riage, you strange creature ? I must say I 
think you are cool, and to say the least of it^ 
not polite." 

" In that carriage," continued Miss Ansell,. 
ignoring her remark, " was a young woman 
of two or three and twenty, with a pale face 
and dark hair; also a dark man with a 
black moustache, dark eyes, and a face paler 
than I have ever seen before. It was not 
always so pale." 

Mrs. Andrews was now watching her 
anxiously. 

" I see you recognise them," said the old 
maid. 



TWO GHOSTS. 33 



" What of them ?" asked Mrs. Andrews, 
nervously. " They have gone for a drive, 
and are not home yet, and the horses are 
fresh ones, surely you have not come to 
bring me bad news ! surely nothing has 
happened !" 

" I have come to do my duty. Ay, even i 
she were my own child I would do it all the 
same. I have come to denounce her and 
the villain who was by her side, and having 
done that I will write to her husband, and 
now I wish you, good morning." 

And before Mrs. Andrews could recover 
her presence of mind Miss Ansell was upon 
her road back to Maidenhead, and Mrs. 
Andrews had come to the alarming convic- 
tion that she had enacted the above scene 
with a mad woman, which was, no doubt, 
about the only one she was likely to arrive 
at. 

VOL. II. 3 



M THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

She was still sitting in a most perturbed 
state of mind, when a young girl of about 
two-and-twenty entered the room, followed 
by a dark young man some three years 
older. These were the son and daughter 
of Mr. Andrews and his buxom wife. 

" Oh, my dear children," exclaimed that 
lady, " I am so relieved to see you back, 
have you met with any accident or annoy- 
ance r 

"None whatever, mamma," answered the 
girl. " We have had a delightful drive ; we 
have been to Cookham to call on the Laws'.'"' 

"Did you see a strange gaunt-looking 
woman — straight up and down like a yard 
of pump water, in Maidenhead ?" 

" My dear mamma, I have just told you 
we have been to Cookham, we have not been 
near the town, and we have not seen any 
old woman at all !" 



TWO GHOSTS. 35 

" Who is the person you refer to ?" asked 
young Andrews, with languid interest. 

He was one of those Hstless creatures who 
had " seen life " all through at twenty -five, 
■and was now longing for a new sensation. 
Everything that money could buy him he had, 
but he was unable to purchase " an object in 
life," so he had to exist without one, and 
found that existence was but a dull business, 
notwithstanding his gold, carefully amassed 
and scraped together by that " City gent,'' 
whom policeman No. 101 had referred to — a 
good hard-working vulgarian whom this 
elegant son called " governor," and looked 
upon solely as the "paymaster-general," 
and was heartily ashamed of, for being unre- 
fined and irinocent of the letter H. 

Mrs. Andrews fanned herself with her 
handkerchief. 

" Oh ! my dear boy, I wish you had been 

3—2 



36 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

here to protect me ! I have been alone 
with a mad woman !" 

"Well, my dear mother, all I can say is, 
you don't look any the worse for it. What 
was the sensation, pleasant or otherwise ?'' 

" Don't laugh, Eandolph. I assure you,, 
however I may look, my nerves are dread- 
fully shaken. Oh ! she was such an alarm- 
ing creature, I couldn't help thinking of 
Solomon Eagle in ' Old St. Paul's,' 
when she threw out her arm like an 
avenging spirit, and denounced you and 
your sister." 

"Denounced us !" cried the young people 
together. " Why ! what for ? What have 
we done ?" 

'' That was what I wanted to know, but 
she rushed off like a whirlwind ! Oh ! my 
dears ! I am sure I have had a wonderful 
escape, we ought all to be very thankful. 



TWO GHOSTS. 37 

She couldn't be Solomon Eagle's sister, but 
she might be his niece. Dear me ! let's 
see, how many years ago was the fire of 
London, when Solomon Eagle denounced 
the people from the roof of St. Paul's ?" 

" Never mind about the Fire of London, 
mother, tell me about this old mad woman, 
I am quite curious about her," said Mr. 
Handolph Andrews. 

"There's not much to tell," said his 
mother. 

" Simmons (the butler) informed me that 
an elderly party who didn't give her name 
was waiting for me in the drawing-room, 
and I went down, and saw a very tall old 
woman standing in the room, badly dressed ; 
she might have been a broomstick dressed 
up for a scarecrow, with a wooden face, for 
^11 the expression or figure she had. Well, 
jou know, we have no shabby genteel 



38 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

acquaintances on our visiting list, so I sup- 
posed she was come beggiug for some charity, 
and I took out my purse at once ready to 
help her.'" 

"Just like you, mamma," said Alice, 
" always ready and willing to do a kind 
action !" 

Mrs. Andrews answered her daughter's 
compliment by a resounding kiss, most 
heartily given and smilingly received. 

" And to go on with my story, children. 
She didn't want money, and I don't know 
even now what she did want ! She 
described the carriage and horses and both of 
you to the life, and then denounced you 
solemnly !" 

" H ow strange," said Alice. 

" It seems to me, mother, that the only 
mo ral to be gathered from the story is this : 
Never admit elderly females^ or any one else,. 



TWO GHOSTS. 31> 



loho does 7io{ give Ms or- her name ; and I will 
go and give Simmons orders to that effect,'^ 
said Eandolph Andrews as he sauntered 
from the room. 





CHAPTER III. 

MISS ansell's letter. 

HE outraged spinster rushed home, 
satisfied that she had at last found 
out the mystery which had en- 
shrouded the death of Greorge Grafton's wife. 
She had hut little knowledge of vice, but 
believed the world to be full of it. Often and 
often she had brooded over the events of three 
years ago, until the most simple facts became 
distorted to her mind, and now she had 
come accidentally upon the sliding panel, 
which it was her duty to push back boldly, 
and expose the crime in all its blackness to 
the world. She knew of George Grafton's 
second marriage, and condemned him for it. 
Marriage at all, under the most favourable 



31ISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 41 

circumstances, she disapproved of; but for 
a man or woman to marry twice, was a fault 
not to be overlooked. She thought George 
Grafton a reprobate, and worthy of no con- 
sideration at her hands. So she wrote the 
bare naked truth, as she believed it to be; 
her letter ran thus : — 

" Dear Sir, — You will possibly remember 
(unless your mind is too much occupied with 
the cares of a second wife), that when my 
niece died suddenly, I considered the cir- 
cumstances surrounding her death peculiar 
and suspicious, and that I had them in- 
vestigated fully. I did my duty, and had 
to rest satisfied that i had laboured under a 
mistake ; but often since then my mind has 
misgiven me, and I have feared that after 
all there lay some deep hidden mystery in 
the affair ; and now I write to inform you 



42 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

that my forebodings were correct. I have 
left my old neighbourhood, and am now re- 
siding near Maidenhead-on-Thames. While 
in the town to-day, I saw yonr wife driving^ 
imth Dr. Cartland ! they did not see me, and 
I need not say that I have no wish to renew 
their acquaintance. I considered it, how^ 
ever, to be my duty to trace them, and I 
called a policeman who informed me that it 
was Mr. Andrews' carriage, and that he lived 
at Fair Lawn. I had no difficulty in finding 
the place, and went in unannounced ; that 
is, I gave no name. The inside of the house 
stamped it as the abode of iniquity. A 
painted Jezebel received me ; she called her- 
self Mrs. Andrews, no doubt your wife does- 
the same. I suppose it is one of those dreadful 
Mormonite establishments which that hor- 
rible Dr. Cartland keeps here, regardless of" 
the laws of the land ; but what can you ex- 
pect from an unbeliever ? George Grafton L 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 4S 



I have done my duty, it is now for you to 
do yours. I have found your wicked wife, 
it is for you to expose and punish her. I 
did not see her, as the painted woman said 
she was out, but I described her and the 
man, and saw by her face that I had made 
no mistake. 

" Yours truly, 

Maria Ansell." 

When George Grafton received this letter 
his indignation knew no bounds. This 
hard, wicked old woman had seen some one 
like his darling Kate (his darling still, 
though dead — though replaced by another 
— yet she was his heart's one and only love 
still, and must ever so remain), had chosen 
to imagine it was her, and Heaven only 
knew what steps the interfering old wretch 
might take, bringing scandal upon the 
woman in her grave. 



44 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

"I must go to England at once, and 
prove to the old idiot that she has made a 
mistake — a cruel, dastardly mistake — my 
poor girl! my beloved wife, that such a 
slander should be named in the same breath 
with you. Kate, Kate, I am faithful to you 
still, although I needs must cherish the 
little creature washed up by the sea for me 
to take care of. My poor little Beryl, she 
will not like to part from me, and yet she 
cannot come now ; but the baby will keep 
her from fretting after me. May God bless 
my boy, my first-born, and his mother, 
little sunbeam that she has been in my dark 
days. I grieve to leave them both, but my 
first duty is to Kate." 

He left the room and the house, and 
went straight to the doctor's. 

Dr. Mills looked up, startled at the pale, 
-stern face before him. 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 45- 

George had not for a moment believed in 
the accusation against his dead wife ; but 
that letter seemed to have raised the devil 
in him. He was impatient to be off, to 
disprove the foul lie against his dead love. 

" Nothing the matter at home, I hope, 
Orafton ?" 

" Nothing in the way you mean, Mills ; 
but there is a great deal the matter with 
me. To doctors and lawyers one may tell 
one's secrets without fear of being betrayed, 
May one not ?" 

" To some,'' answered Dr. Mills, with a 
smile ; " but don't put too much trust in 
either." 

" You, at any rate, are a good fellow. 
Mills, and I can, and will trust you. You 
know Cartland, do you not ?" 

" Of course, I do." 

" Then tell me what you think of him ?" 



46 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" Oh !" said Dr. Mills, '' my dear fellow, 
if you want an opinion you must go to the 
other trustworthy profession, and for six 
and eightpence you will get just the reverse 
opinion to what you want, whatever it 
may be !" 

Even in Ceylon people had heard of Mrs. 
Grafton's mysterious death, and that Dr. 
Cartland's name had been unpleasantly 
mixed up with it. So Dr. Mills was not 
very anxious to express his real opinion of 
the man, to that woman's husband, as it was 
by no means flattering to the noble 
doctor. 

George Grafton placed the letter he had 
just received in the hands of the medical 
man. 

"Eead that Mills, and tell me what I 
ought to do/' 

The other read it through attentively — 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 47 

he did not tell George his thoughts, for he 
believed in Miss Ansell's vision, had always 
considered Mrs. Grafton's death a most ex- 
traordinary affair, and now he was far from 
anxious to enter upon the subject with 
George. He put the letter back into the 
envelope, and laid his hand on George's 
shoulder affectionately. 

" It is a painful letter for you to receive 
Grafton, but my advice to you is to try and 
think no more about it, and not even to 
answer the letter of this disagreeable 
meddler in your affairs." 

" But, my dear Mills, I must go and 
clear my wife's name from this slander. I 
must prove her innocence." 

" Innocence is its own advocate, Grafton. 
You have another wife to consider now, as 
sweet a wife as God ever blessed a man 
with, and a son ; your duty is to take care 



48 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

of them, not to run the world over dis- 
proving statements (which no one will be- 
lieve) of a crazy old woman. Surely Graf- 
ton you are too sensible to go off on such 
a wild-goose chase ! You must remember 
these are not the days of trap doors, sliding 
panels, and mysterious disappearances." 

" I never thought they were," said 
George, smiling in spite of himself. '^ You 
don't think I believe these lies against the 
truest woman God ever made, nor have I 
any reason to believe Harry Cartland to be 
anything but a man of honour. We were 
college friends, and he was a wild lad ; but 
since we have renewed our acquaintance I 
have found him a staid, quiet man." 

" Under these circumstances, my dear 
Grafton, have the sense to remain by your 
wife's side, that is your right place now,'" 
said Dr. Mills. 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 49 

And George left liim, silent, but uncon- 
Tinced. After wandering aimlessly about, 
lie suddenly turned liis steps homewards, 
and went to his wife's room. What a pic- 
ture met his eye. A fair head, with 
waving, rippling hair, falling on a snowy 
pillow, a pale sweet face bending over 
a rosy one week old babe, which was nest- 
ling in her caressing arms, safely clutched 
by two tiny fragile little hands, which 
peeped out from the ruffled sleeves of her 
wrapper, and then the face was raised to 
his, brimming over with wifely, motherly 
love. 

" Come, Greorge, and help me to find out 
the colour of baby's eyes ; are they like 
yours or mine ? Oh ! I do hope they 
will be like yours, George." 

He stooped and kissed the mother and 
child. 

VOL. II. 4 



60 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" I wish I were an artist, my little 
Beryl, I slioald just paint you as 
the Madonna and Child. You can't 
tell how lovely a picture you two are 
together." 

" Oh, George ! I am so proud, so happy,'' 
cried out this child — wife — mother — and 
then, with love's intuition, she looked at 
him more closely, and the joy faded out of 
her face. 

" Husband !" she said, in a pleading tone, 
reaching out her little hand, " something is 
the matter, tell me what it is." 

" Nothing, dearest." 

*' George, I know better ; do you think 
your words can deceive me, when I know 
every expression of your face by heart? 
Something has troubled you deeply, dear ; 
you think to spare me, but, believe me, I 
shall suffer more if you keep me in the 



]VnSS ANSELL'S LETTEK. 



dark. Trust me, husband, you will find I 
can be very brave/' 

George sat down by the bedside, and 
rested his aching head upon his wife's 
pillow, in silence ; and after a while began. 
" You have guessed rightly, Beryl, darling, 
I am in trouble, and I will explain it to 
you so far as I am able to do so. You will 
not mind ray talking of Kate, little one ? 
You know I love you, dear, but you also 
know how devotedly I loved my first wife ?" 

" Yes, yes, I know !" murmured Beryl,. 
with a trembling lip. " It is quite natural 
George, I do not mind." 

The spirit of the small creature was brave ; 
but the eyes, bright with unshed tears, 
rather belied the words. 

" If any one slandered you, my Beryl, 
what do you think I ought to do ? What 
do you think I should do ?" 

4—2 

LIBRARY 



52 THE HAZELHUEST ]VIYSTERY. 

" You would defend your wife, I know, 
George," answered she with a happy smile. 

'' Yes, dear, and punish the person who 
had wronged you/' 

" No, George, not if they were sorry for 
it ; we would both forgive them, dear, 
knowing that we ourselves need so much 
forgiveness." 

" My precious, gentle little wife, you are 
right, darling, not if they were sorry — we 
would, as you say, forgive them if they 
repented of their sin." 

'' But, George dear, what has any one 
said agaiDst me ?" 

"Against you, my child? The slander 
has been against my Kate — against my 
iirst wife." 

And a shadow of pain crossed his brow. 
Beryl sat upright and looked at him. 

'' No, George, no, there must be some 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 53 

mistake, the worst person living would not 
slander the dead !" 

She looked now unlike the gentle girl 
who wished to forgive her enemies ; it 
seemed to her trae nature that to malign 
those who had no power to defend their 
good names, but had gone to answer before 
a higher tribunal than that of man, was 
a sacrilege — an impossible, unforgivable sin. 

A sad smile was all his answer. 

" What !" she cried, '' some one has 
really spoken evil lately of your — of 
Kate ?" 

She could not call her his wife, even now. 

" Yes, dear Beryl, some one has invented 
the most horrible, cruel, dastardly lies 
against her. Now, tell me what I ought to 
do. I ought not to sit still and hear it, 
little one, ought I, when she cannot defend 
herself?" 



64> THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Beryl turned very pale, but put her hand 
into his. 

" I cannot advise you, George, for you 
are far wiser than I am ; but do not con- 
sider me if you think 3^ou have any duty to 
perform to her/' 

" God bless you, my wife," cried George 
Grafton, catching her to his breast. " You 
are a noble, brave little woman, Beryl. I 
love you, I am proud of you ; what other 
woman would have been so unselfish ? I do 
think I have a duty to perform, I will go to 
England and clear that poor girl's name, 
and I will soon be back with my blessed 
little wife here. Oh, child !" he cried pas- 
sionately, " if any evil were to befall you 
through me it would break my heart, my 
pure dove," and he smoothed the fair disor- 
dered tresses of silky hair, as they lay 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 55 

negligently on the pillow, nestling about 
her slender throat. 

" What evil can befall your wife, Greorge ?" 
she asked, with a happy, contented smile. 

" God grant, none, my dearest, but I am 
full of forebodings of evil/' he answered 
gloomily ; and then, as if determined to shake 
it off, he smiled, and said, " you ought to be 
flattered, little one ! that the prospect of 
leaving you for a few short weeks should 
take the pluck out of me like this ; and I 
am very wrong to worry you thus ; I hope 
you wont miss me very much, dear," he 
added lovingly, " you will have my son to 
take care of you in my absence." 

" God bless our child !" said the mother, 
drawing him more closely to her, and stoop- 
ing to kiss his infant lips. 

"Amen!" answered George to her peti- 
tion. 



66 THE HAZELHUEST I^IYSTERY. 

After awhile, she said, " When shall you 
go, husband ?" 

"I don't know, Beryl, but by the very 
first steamer/' 

"Because," she continued, " I should like 
baby to be christened before you do." 

" Very well ! wife of mine, you shall have 
your wish. I will go up at once and ask 
Mr. Summers to baptize the boy before I 
start ;" and he rose to go. 

" George," said Beryl, " you have not 
told me what has been said against her, 
against Kate, you know." 

He was going towards the door, but 
stopped suddenly and looked at her, all the 
colour gone from his face. With her words 
there flashed upon his mind the con- 
sequences that such an accusation proved 
would have upon her, his present wife; if that 
were true, not his wife at all, and then he 



MISS ANSELL'S LETTER. 57 

cast the thouglit out of his mind as if it had 
been a poisonous reptile. 

" No, Beryl," he answered, " I cannot tell 
you what it is ; it is not fit for your pure 
ears to listen to, your pure heart to ponder 
over. Beryl !" he cried, with subdued pas- 
sion, "I would sooner die than that you 
should know and realise such a story as 
I have been told about poor Kate," and he 
turned and left the room without another 
word. 




CHAPTER IV. 




GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 

ABY GEOEGE was made a Chris- 
tian of, and a tender parting had 
taken place between George Grrafton 
and his wife. She kept up a brave spirit 
till the last ; till the last sound of the wheels 
had died in the distance, which were carry- 
ing from her what she loved best in the 
world ; and then she gave way to her grief. 
She never thought him unkind to leave her, 
never tried to persuade him not to go ; he 
had told her it was his duty, and Beryl was 
the last little woman in the world to wish 
to stand in the way of that. She said no 
more about the nature of the slander asrainst 



GEOEGE SEES A GHOST. 



the first Mrs. Grafton ; but she very often 
wondered about it, framing what she 
thought dreadful things, that some one 
might have invented ; though never in her 
innocence coming near to the black truth. 
But George's earnestness, George's words 
were for ever presenting themselves before 
her. " He would sooner die than that she 
should realise such a story." Poor George ! 
How tender he was over her, and her wifely 
heart sang anthems of praise for the gift of 
such a husband as George Grafton ! 

So days and weeks passed on, and George 
had reached England, and had seen Miss 
Ansell. From her house he walked straight to 
Fair Lawn, sent in his card, and was admitted 
to the sanctuary of mirrors, golden damask, 
and statuettes. He could not help smiHng 
as he cast his eyes around the gorgeous 
room, remembering the anathemas he had 



60 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

just heard hurled upon it by Miss AnselFs 
Christian lips ; upon it, and the house, and 
all that dwelt therein. He could under- 
stand that Miss An sell would be horrified, 
though to him, the undraped Venuses being 
only works of art, he could look at them 
with pleasure, each being perfect of its 
kind. 

While he was gazing at a reclining Yenus 
in a looking-glass stand, the door opened, 
and George turned round, a cry escaped his 
lips! "Kate!" he cried, in an agonised 
voice, and sunk into a chair, and covered 
his face with his hands. 

The girl looked very much alarmed, and 
made her escape from the room. 

" Another mad person !" she exclaimed, 
as she rushed into her mother's boudoir. 
"Oh, mamma ! I will never go and receive 
strange visitors for you again !" 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 61 

" Why, good gracious me ! what has 
happened, child?" asked Mrs. Andrews, 
struggling into a rich green silk dress. 

''Mother?" cried Alice, "there's a mad- 
man in the drawing-room." 

" Lor ! there must be an asylum let loose ! 
Oh, dear ! I wish your pa was at home, or 
Eandolph." 

" Be quick, mamma, for the man's ill as 
well as mad ! I was afraid to stay by my- 
self; but I'll go back with you." 

" And we will tell Simmons to wait 
outside the door," said the mother. 

In the meantime, the deadly faintness 
that had seized upon George, as he saw a 
tall, dark, graceful girl, dressed in white 
" pique," with a bunch of crimson roses at 
her breast, enter the room, passed away ; 
and he looked up to find that he was 
alone. 



62 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

"Good God!" he groaned; "was it a 
delusion of my excited fancy ? did my brain 
call up a picture of my dead wife, as I used 
to see her, that happy summer-time, three 
years ago ? Has no one been into the room 
after all?" He wiped the drops of agony 
from his brow, his hands were cold as clay. 
If that were Kate ! what, what, was she 
now, and Beryl, and the child, what of 
them ? " Oh, God !" he cried, " deliver me 
from this ghastly fancy, it cannot be real!" 

Again the door opened, and a lady 
appeared, who in a moment he recognised 
as Miss Ansell's ''painted Jezebel;" yet she 
was not painted. Nature had blessed Mrs. 
Andrews with an all-powerful colour ; which 
that good lady had endeavoured to soften 
down with an unlimited supply of violet 
powder I George felt relieved, as he looked 
at her ; he saw at once, that vanity and 



GEOKGE SEES A GHOST. 63 

vulgarity, were the greatest sins that the 
stout lady had to answer for. Alice, walk- 
ing in her mother's shadow, was at first 
invisible through Mrs. Andrew's bulk. He 
started, as she once more appeared. They 
had now come close to him. 

"Mr. George Grafton," said Mrs. An- 
drews, looking at his card, " I don't think I 
have had the pleasure of hearing the name 
before." 

George had never taken his eyes ofi" 
Alice's face. 

Mrs. Andrews made a gesture of introduc- 
tion. " My daughter. Miss Alice Andrews," 
she said, grandly, with a majestic sweep 
of the arm. 

An expression of inexpressible relief 
passed across his face. George Grafton 
was himself again ! Not only had Mrs. 
Andrews' words lifted a weight from his 



64 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

heart, but on close examination he found 
the likeness to his dead wife in this girl 
'before him, though great, was not nearly so 
great as his excited imagination had sup- 
posed. Her face was not as perfect in 
features as Kate's had been ; still they were 
alike enough to have been sisters — quite. 

" Mrs. Andrews," said Greorge, " I must 
ask your pardon for my peculiar behaviour 
to your daughter, but her extraordinary 
likeness to a dear wife whom I lost three 
years ago, must be my plea for your for- 
giveness." 

There could not be a kinder-hearted 
woman than Mrs. Andrews ; and an honest 
tear twinkled in her eye as she stretched 
out lier hand to George, thereby offering 
him her friendship. 

" Oh ! Mr. Grafton, don't worry your 
head about that ! you frightened Alice a 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 65 

little, but slie'll get over it. I am sorry 
you liave had your troubles ; so young too, 
and so gentlemanly-looking. I've quite 
taken a fancy to you, Mr. Grrafton, and 
I liope we shall be friends, but I can't help 
laughing, for Alice took you for a lunatic l" 
and the worthy woman gave way to an 
uncontrollable fit of laughter and shaking ; 
" and only to think," she continued, " we've 
got Simmons outside the door, now (that's 
the butler, you know), to protect us if you 
proved dangerous !'' and Mrs. Andrews 
laughed again, shaking like an animated 
rouge mange ! 

Alice coloured. 

" You must excuse my thinking so, you 
know, as you were peculiar ; and we had a 
fright from a mad woman, about a couple of 
months ago." 

"Yes," said George, ''she wrote to me, 

VOL. II. 5 



66 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

and told me that my wife's death was an 
imposture, and that I should find her here. 
My dear Kate died while I was in Ceylon, 
just a year after our marriage. You may 
imagine. Miss Andrews, when you came 
into the room, looking so like her, dressed 
in her favourite costume of white, and 
crimson roses, how you startled me !" 

" I am so sorr}^," said Alice, sympatheti- 
cally. 

" Why, it's quite a romance !" said Mrs. 
Andrews, smoothing down the green silk 
with a caressing hand. "And now you'v^e 
come to England to look for another wife, 
I suppose, Mr. Grafton?" she asked, while 
her eyes rested on her daughter s handsome 
face. 

" No ! on the contrary, I have married 
again, which made the idea of my first wife 
being alive a doubly serious matter to me.'^ 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 67 

"Only to think of that!" cried Mrs. 
Andrews. " You thought you had com- 
mitted bigamy ! No wonder you were 
frightened at our AHce, when you thought 
she was your first wife come back to accuse 
you of your falseness !" 

" Xo, Mrs. Andrews ; no thoughts ot 
myself were in my mind when I saw your 
daughter. If you knew how I loved Kate, 
you would understand it better." 

" Kate," said Mrs. Andrews, " was that 
number one, or number two ?" 

" Kate was my first wife's name ; my 
present wife is called Beryl." 

" Present wife/' laughed the stout lady ; 
" that sounds as if you were going to have 
half-a-dozen more !" 

George looked serious, and Alice was 
quick to perceive it. 

" Beryl !" she said, " I never 'heard that 

5 — 2 



68 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

name before, how pretty it is. I feel sure 
any one owning it must be very charming." 

" My little Beryl is an angel, Miss 
Andrews. I should like you to know each 
other very much ; you are so like the one I 
loved best on earth, that I know you must 
be all that is good, and I wish I could 
insure your friendship for my wife, who is 
quite a child." 

" You are right there, Mr. Grafton," said 
the proud mother. '' Alice is as good a 
girl as ever stepped in shoe-leather ; not 
one of your district -visiting sort, who 
pretends to be in love with every dirty 
child she sees, and to enjoy the smell of 
poverty, that you find in squalid cottages, 
and the chance of bringing home more 
than you took out ! Alice is too refined 
for that sort of goodness ; but she 
doesn't spare her pocket - money, if she 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 



knows a poor person is in want ; and she 
works at her needle for them like a lady^ 
and makes them clothes." 

Alice looked up. " I wanted to have a 
district, but mamma would not hear of it ; 
and she gave me such a graphic description 
of all I should have to go through, that she 
quite horrified me. The poor must live 
in a dreadful state." 

G-eorge looked at her kindly. 

" And how are they to learn better, Miss 
Andrews, if no one will teach them ?" 

'' Then you approve of ladies taking 
districts ?" 

" Certainl}^, I do. It is the sick who 
need a physician, not the healthy; the 
ignorant who require teaching, not the 
learned." 

" Come, come, Mr. Grafton, please not to 
put such ideas in Alice's head. I have only 



70 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

one daughter, and I don^t want to see her 
die of scarlet fever, or small-pox, which 
she's sure to take, having had neither. No, 
no, Alice; give away as much money as 
you like, but give it with the tongs, as one 
may say. If you hadn't got money to give, 
I'd say nothing ; but your money does 
them more good than your words, I'll 
warrant ; and if you want to teach religion 
I'll send for as many bibles as you like, and 
one of the gardeners shall go round with 
them. Not one of the indoor servants, for 
fear they should bring home anything. The 
fear of infection, and insects, is the terror of 
my life, Mr. Grafton," she ended, pathetically. 

George and Alice both smiled. How like 
Kate she was. It gave him quite a painful 
pleasure to be near her. 

" Mrs. Andrews, I am trespassing too 
much on your time, I fear." 



GEOEGE SEES A GHOST. 71 

" Not a bit of it, go home and dress your- 
self, and share our dinner. Eandolph is 
going to bring a stranger home this evening ; 
some one he knew when he was at Oxford. 
Eandolph is my son, you know ; and then 
you will meet Mr. Andrews, too. He's not 
much to look at, is he Alice ? But he's a 
good hand at making a fortune ; and he's 
an honest man. Eandolph looks down on 
his father; but for all that he's been a 
good father to him, and never denied him 
anything in his life ; but then, you know, 
Eandolph has been at the University, and is 
rather a swell !" 

George had been going to refuse the 
invitation, but he feared lest he should be 
supposed to look down on the absent Mr. 
Andrews, so he said, kindly — 

" I sliall be very pleased to make your 
-husband's acquaintance, Mrs. Andrews. 



72 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Every honest man has a charm for me, and 
I feel sure I shall like Mr. Andrews/' and 
he held out his hand to say good-by. 

" Well, au ' revoi\ " said she ; " we dine at 
seven to the moment, no grace allowed, Mr. 
Grafton !" 

" I will be punctual," laughed George, as 
his eyes rested once again on Alice's 
face. 

George returned to Miss Ansell, and told 
her of her mistake. A great weight had 
been lifted off his mind, his spirits were 
elated, he felt as if he walked on air. There 
was nothing against his darling Kate, 
nothing to come between him and Beryl, 
nothing to break her faithful heart, and 
take away his son's very name. And George 
was thankful, very thankful, and very happy. 
He would go back to his little wife, and small 
son, as quickly as possible, only running 



GEOKGE SEES A GHOST. 73 

down first to see his father and mother. 
He sat down and wrote to Beryl a joyous 
letter — the last she ever had from him — 
full of love and brightness, over which she 
laughed and cried, by turns ; inexpressibly 
happy that the shadow had passed out of 
his life, that she should see him again so 
soon. He was coming back, he said, as fast 
as steam could carry him ! 

And Beryl was happy, telling her joy in 
broken words to the babe upon her knee, 
who threw up his small arms at liis mother's 
voice, as if he understood her words. 

George Grafton spent a pleasant evening 

with the Andrews. Randolph condescend- 
ingly patronised him, the old man gave 

him a hearty, H-less, welcome. Alice liked 

and admired him, and Mrs. Andrews patted 

him affectionately on the back ! 

The stranger collegian was a sHght 



74 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

acquaintance of his own ; had joined the 
University about the time he liad left, not 
even at the same college; still they were 
acquaintances, and both had known Harry 
Cartland in those old days. 

" By-the-by, Grafton, do you remember 
a man at Oxford, named Cartland ?" 

" Yes,'' said Greorge, " he and I were at the 
same college." 

''Poor devil!" continued he. "He has 
come very suddenly to the end of his tether. 
Cartland has had a short life and a merry 
one ! 

George Grafton looked very grave. 

'' Poor Cartland ! dead, is he ?" 

" Well, not actually dead ; at least, I 
have not seen it in the Times, but he is 
given over." 

" Poor Cartland ! We were friends, and 
his approaching death is a shock to me." 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 75 

" Wild dog," continued the other. " Some 
story about his murdering some other man's 
wife about three years ago." 

The evening was over for George. So 
there had been such talk as that about his 
wife — well, it was time to say good-bye, and 
he said it, amidst a running accompaniment 
of regrets from his hosts and hostesses. 

A dull sense of pain went with him to 
his hotel, and continued all night, mocking 
the elasticity which had defied trouble all 
the day through, since his interview at 
Fair Lawn with Mrs. Andrews and her 
daughter. He felt angry with Dr. Cart- 
land, then angry with himself for his want 
of feeling for the dying man. How could 
he help the scandals got up by the world 
against Kate ; or, indeed, were they not 
against the man himself? He would go to 
London and call upon him, and shake his 



76 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 



hand once more in this world. Having 
made up his mind he was anxious to be off 
at once, and rose early for his start. 
London reached, he hailed a Hansom cab, 
and drove straight to Dr. Cartland's door. 
The hall-porter was a stranger to George 
Grrafton. 

" Dr. Cartland had been out of town for 
these two months and more. He could not 
give his address — believed he was living 
near Windsor. All letters were addressed 
to the Windsor Post-office, to be called for. 
The practice was sold to Dr. Duval, who 
was at home then. Would the gentleman 
see him instead?" " Yes — George Grafton 
would. No — he would not send in his card." 
" Dr. Duval would see the gentleman at once. 
The practice had fallen off in Dr. Cartland's 
hands after the talk about Mrs. Grafton ; 
the ladies became afraid of him, and he was 



GEORGE SEES A GHOST. 77 

less sought after. Dr. Duval was not a 
favourite with any one. He looked like a 
foreigner, but spoke good English. No one 
seemed to know anything of him until he 
came into Dr. Cartland's business." 

George was shown in ; the two men bowed. 
George was the first to speak. 

"You are Dr. Cartland's successor, I 
believe ?" 

" Yes ; what can I have the pleasure of 
doing for you ?" 

" I shall be much obliged if you will give 
me Cartland's address," said George. 

Dr. Duval eyed him keenly. 

" You forget, sir, that you are a stranger 
to me." 

" True," answered George, " but I am a 
friend of Cartland's. We were at college 
together, and now I hear that he is ill." 

" Very ill — in fact, dying," said Duval. 



78 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

" Do you attend him ?'' 

"I do." 

" Then undoubtedly you can give me hi& 
address/' 

" Undoubtedly I could," said he, coolly ; 
" but Cartland is a friend of mine, and I see 
no reason for telling his whereabouts to 
every one who may ask for it." 

" But why not ?" said George, greatly 
astonished. 

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. 

" Does a dying man want visitors ?" 

" Then you wont tell me where he 
lives ?" 

" Exactly so !" answered Dr. Duval, with 
an amused smile. 

George thought for a few moments, and 
then took out his card and handed it to the 
other. 

" You must have heard of me if Cartland 



GEOKGE SEES A GHOST. 79 

is a friend of yours. As a stranger, you will 
not assist me I see, but as a mutual acquain- 
tance of the same man you can hardly with- 
hold such a small civility." 

Dr. Duval looked at the card, and even 
his mask-like face underwent a change, and 
Greorge noticed it. 

•' I see you have heard of me,^' he said. 

Dr. Duval seemed uncertain what course 
to steer, and then, after a pause, answered — 

" Yes — I see no reason for denying that 
I have met with the name before. I was 
called in to see a lady of the name of 
Grafton about three years since who was 
dying, and it seemed to me a sad case, for 
she was all alone — no one with her but her 
medical attendant." 

George's lips trembled. Here then was 
another witness to poor Kate's death. 

" I am that lady's husband," he answered. 



so THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" Good God !" exclaimed the doctor, sur- 
prised out of himself. " I thought you had 
died abroad, been lost at sea, or something 
of that sort ; I am sure I heard so." 

" Did Cartland tell jou so ?" asked George, 
sternly. 

" I am not prepared to say, one hears a 
great many things without being able to 
remember who was the originator of a 
report. People will say anything, Mr. 
Grafton. I actually heard some say they 
had seen your wife within the last twelve- 
month, yet I saw her die !" 

George turned clay cold. 

" Who said it ?" he asked, with suppressed 
passion. " If it be a man I will break every 
bone in his body!" 

Dr. Duval smiled, and again shrugged 
his shoulders. 

" My dear sir, you have lived some time 



GEOEGE SEES A GHOST. 81 

abroad ; you must have forgotten the ways 
of the world. It is impossible to trace 
these little ' on dits/ " 

" Then I will make you responsible for 
them," said George, sternly. " No one 
shall say or repeat anything against my 
dead wife if I can help it." 

Dr. Duval looked at his watch. 

" I am always sorry to part with pleasant 
society, Mr. Grrafton, but a medical man's 
time is not at his own disposal. I must 
wish you good morning," and before George 
could stop him he had passed through a 
mysterious door which was papered over, 
and had not been noticed b}^ George before,, 
and was gone. 

George Grafton tried the handle, but the 
door had evidently shut with a noiseless 
spring, and before he could gather up his 
scattered senses, a servant entered the room 

VOL. II. 6 



•82 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

to show him out, and he had nothing to do 
hut to go. On and on he walked, and 
entered St. James's Park, and at last stopped 
hy the ornamental waters and sat down. 

The walks were utterly deserted — the shut- 
tered windows of the London houses seemed 
to bespeak a dead world. If any human 
beings were alive in those mansions, they 
must have lived in the back rooms, for the 
sake of appearance; for who would be in 
London in September ? 

A dreadful weight was on Greorge Grafton's 
heart and spirits. He seemed lost in the 
shadow of a dark and unknown evil. For 
hours he sat looking into the still waters, 
with a terrible longing to find rest in them 
from the nameless horror that was upon 
him, a longing which he put from him im- 
patiently. 

" My mind must be upset," he said aloud. 



GEOEGE SEES A GHOST. 83 

not noticing a policeman who was standing 
behind him listening to his words. " What 
do I imagine ? what are my fears 1 I can- 
not tell ; and yet I seem driven on to some 
unknown misery. Why cannot I be con- 
tent to go back to my wife and child, and 
find happiness, instead of prowling about 
England in search of a mystery which pro- 
bably does not exist ? I wish I had fol- 
lowed Mills's advice, and never come over 
on this wild-goose chase. Just when I 
thought I was free to go home, this Dr. 
Duval arouses fresh doubts in my mind, and. 
yet, what did he say to do so ? He declined 
to give me Cartland's address. Why should 
he do so ? that is what I have to find out 
next." 

The policeman scented business, and 
walked round him so as to get a good view 
of his face. 

6—2 



84 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

" Windsor Post Office !" cried Greorge, 
starting from his seat. "That is where I 
must go/' and he made off across the park. 

The policeman watched the retreating 
form, muttering to himself that he expected 
he should see that gent again ; and straight- 
way pulled out a little note-book and entered 
the words he had heard George speak on a 
blank page, which he headed " A Mystery," 
and very much satisfied with his own acute- 
ness he " moved on" to look for other inte- 
restinsf matters. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 



^^R. CARTLAND was very fast ap- 
i.^L proacliing the Valley of the Shadow 
of Death, but his dying hours were 
cheered by a loving woman's devotion. She 
was seldom away from his bedside. Night 
and day she smoothed his pillow, raising the 
emaciated form in her strong white arms, 
and resting the weary head upon her breast. 
The sick man's eyes would rest upon her 
full of gratitude and love, and he would kiss 
the hand that ministered to his wants. 

"My darling," he said, "I shall soon 
know the Great Mystery!" 

Large dark circles surrounded the beauti- 



8t3 THE HAZELHUEST ]\IYSTERY. 

ful eyes of tlie girl he addresser!, and spoke of 
nights of weary watching ; and the agonised 
expression of those orbs told a tale of suf- 
fering enough to melt a heart of stone. 

" Oh, Harry !" she cried, burying her 
face in his bed-clothes ; '' oh, Harry ! do 
not leave me. I have no one — no one but 
you. Let us call in fresh advice ; surely 
among all the clever men in London some 
one could be found to cure you. Oh ! why 
— why must I lose you ?" 

He lifted his feeble hand with difficulty, 
and stroked her glossy dark head. 

" No one can cure me, my darling ; my 
hours are numbered." 

The girl sobbed piteously. 

"Why, darling, it is not often you give 
way," he continued. " Be brave still for 
my sake. Oh, love, when I think of all you 
are to me, all you have done for me, I find 



THE GEEAT MYSTERY. 87- 



it very hard to die, little one. In the days 
to come, if you ever feel inclined to blame 
the dead man, remember that 3^ou were his 
one and only love !" 

She nestled closely to him, but answered 
by no word. He seemed exhausted from 
the effect of talking, but soon renewed the 
conversation. 

"In after-life, love, if you find I have 
deceived you, could you forgive me?" 

" Forgive you, Harry — what could I not 
forgive ?" cried the heart-broken girl. 
" You know I would give my life for you, 
my love — oh ! my love !" 

"I shall die happier for that promise, 
wife," he said, with a faint smile. " I have 
kept but one secret from you. You will 
know it when I am gone. I have written 
to you, and you will open the letter after I 
am buried — not before.'' 



88 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

Choking sobs alone told him that she 
heard him. 

" I have not behaved well to you, love, 
but you have promised to forgive me. But, 
darling," he said, almost raising himself in 
his earnestness, ''never doubt one thing, 
that my love for you was the one true and 
pure feeling of my life ; that I die loving 
you in death, as I have loved you in life ; 
and if I were not an unbeliever, I should 
hope to renew that love hereafter. Dear 
love, can there be any meeting again for us ? 
you who are a true Christian — I an un- 
believer. The one honest feeling of my 
life has been my love for you, and that a 
good man would count unholy, a thing 
to be repented of, and I cannot repent 
of it. Ch, my darling, my more than 
wife ! I glory in it. If I believed in God, 
I would thank Him for these three years 
of perfect happiness, and ask Him to 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 89 

give you back to me in another world; 
but as a man lives so must he die. It 
is too late to change now; I have 
lived an unbeliever, I must die an un- 
believer/' and he sunk down on his pillow 
exhausted. 

" Harry," whispered the girl, gently, 
" we have both sinned, but the blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. For 
His sake we shall be forgiven." 

She rested her pale cheek upon his thin 
hand lovingly, and thus they remained 
silently for a long while, and then he looked 
at her sad and weary face. 

" My darling, you are worn out ; you will 
not distress me, love, but will go and rest 
for a couple of hours." 

" Don't send me away, Harry," she 
pleaded. 

" My wile, I must insist ; I will have one 
of* the servants to sit with me, but rest you 



90 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

must have, and now, or you will break 
down ; kiss me, love, and go." 

The girl rose wearily, and kissed him 
passionately, and then left the room with 
heavy, listless steps, and in a few moments 
more a man-servant entered. 

Harry Cartland would have no woman 
save his wife in his room. 

" What time is it, Stevens ?" he inquired 
of the man. 

"Three, sir!" 

"Have the letters come?" 

" I will see, sir," and presently he re- 
entered with several on a salver. 

Dr. Cartland had written to London to 
his lawyer, and here was an ansv^^er from him, 
to say he would be with him at "three 
thirty," and then the sick man glanced 
through his other letters, and laid back on 
his pillow to rest. 



THE GEE AT MYSTERY. 91 



" I shall want pens and ink ready, Stevens, 
and my desk. I am expecting a gentleman 
presently, you can leave when he comes ; 
draw up the blinds, and let me look at the 
light of the day," he added, languidly. 

For the last month he had been too weak 
to walk upstairs, so a room had been arranged 
for him upon the ground floor — a pretty 
room, draped with delicate cretonne, a room 
in which every detail showed a lady's hand ; 
flowers from the lovely garden were arranged 
tastefully here and there, nothing was for- 
gotten that the sick man liked. The French 
windows were opened upon a soft, green, 
well-kept lawn, roses peeped in round the 
window sills, while clematis hung festooned 
about the top. Willows bowed their weep- 
ing branches to the gentle breeze, kissing 
the water as it rippled past. The cottage 
in which Dr. Cartland was living, was called 



^2 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

*' The Nook." It was close to the Thames, 
but lay back in a pretty little winding 
back-water, so that it could scarcely be seen 
at all by the passers-by on the river. It 
was hidden too by the luxuriant shrubs and 
trees by which it was surrounded, dis- 
closing nothing but a few chimneys and 
gables to the world. It lay in from the 
main road also, having ^reen fields stretch- 
ing as far as eye could range, and gates up 
the carriage drive to the house — an isolated 
place although in the midst of habitations. 

This was the home to which Harry Cart- 
land brought the woman of his love — the 
wife of his heart, nearly three years 
since. 

About noon this day (the day on which 
Harry Cartland was expecting his lawyer), 
a gentleman walked into the General Post 
Office at Windsor, and asked for Dr. Cart- 



THE GEEAT MYSTEKY. 



land's address ; each official referred him to 
another, not knowing it, till he found him- 
self before the postmaster, who was in- 
tensely civil, also intensely ignorant as to 
what he wanted to know. 

The inquirer was George Grafton. He- 
repeated again his question, patiently, having 
asked it some half-dozen times before. 

" Could the postmaster give him Dr. 
Cartland's address ?" 

" No !" the postmaster " regretted very 
much he could not oblige him. Dr. Cart- 
land lived a long distance from any post 
office — somewhere up the river — and always 
sent to Windsor twice a-week at least for 
his letters. Mrs. Cartland had been for 
them herself more than once, and a sweet 
looking lady she was ; would make a most 
lovely widow ! for the poor doctor was on 
his death-bed, and indeed to-day was the 



94 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 



day for fetching the letters ; if the gentle- 
man wished to send any message, he would 
take care it ^v^as delivered to the groom, who 
always, at least generally, rode over." 

" No, Greorge would not send a message, 
he would look out for the man," and Fate 
helped him, for as he turned to leave the 
office, he felt a mysterious tap on his 
shoulder, and there stood the postmaster by 
his side. 

" There ! that's Dr. Cartland's groom, sir, 
dismounting at the White Hart," he whis- 
pered confidentially. 

" Always glad to oblige, sir," said the man, 
in answer to George's thanks. 

George Grafton crossed to the hotel yard, 
where the man had led in the horse. 

So Harry Cartland was married, and he 
had never heard of it, and now his wife 
would be a pretty widow ! 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 95 

Poor Cartland ! and that was all the world 
said or thought about the affair. 

He walked up to the groom, and asked 
whether Dr. Cartland was any better. 

The man shook his head. 

" No, sir, nor never will be in this world ; 
he's took to his bed now, poor fellow, and 
he'll never get up no more, and missus is 
just heart-broken." 

" I am very sorry, indeed," answered 
George ; " how long has your master been 
married ?" 

" Dont know, sir, at all. I have only 
been with him a year, and I never thought 
to ask ; but they seems to be all in all to 
each other, as the saying is." 

" Ah!" said George Grafton. "Well, I am 
going over to see Dr. Cartland this after- 
noon, and am not sure of the address; be 
good enough to give it to me !" 



96 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

The request, being accompanied by half- 
a-crown, was acceded to at once, and the 
groom having got the letters, rode off again 
at a brisk trot for " The Nook," and men- 
tioned faithfully to his master's man, his 
meeting with the gentleman at Windsor. 

So when Stevens heard that Dr. Cart- 
land was expecting his lawyer, he put two- 
and two together, deciding that they were 
one and the same person. 

The bell rang, and Stevens went out of 
the bed-chamber to usher in the stranger, 
and as he closed the door he was puzzled 
by hearing his master exclaim — 

" Grafton ! Grafton ! is it really you ? 
you in the flesh ?" 

George walked up to the bedside, and 
took his wasted hand in his. 

"Don't," cried the sick man, shrinking 
back ; "I have injured you." 



THE GEEAT MYSTERY. 97 

George looked at his hollow cheeks, and 
saw he was in no state to be agitated. 

" Say you forgive me, George, and I shall 
die happy ! What brought you here ? I 
thought you were out there in Ceylon, 
married and happy." 

" I heard some rumours of Kate's not 
being really dead, Cartland, and I came to 
England at once." 

The sick man's face grew ghastly as he 
listened ; death seemed to be coming upon 
him; he clutched the bedclothes between 
his clammy hands convulsively. 

" I have seen Dr. Duval," continued 
George, " and he tells me he was with her 
when she died, so it is impossible 
for me to doubt any longer. So you 
are married, Cartland ! Good God ! what is 
the matter?" for the sick man had 
fainted. 

VOL. II. 7 



98 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

George rang the bell, and the faithful 
Stevens entered the room. 

He looked reproachfully at George. 

" You might have seen he was in no state 
to talk to or be agitated," he said roughly ; 
'* but some folks have no feelings for others ; 
poor master ?" and he set to work at once 
to try and bring his master back to con- 
sciousness. 

He chafed the thin hands, held salts to 
his nostrils, and wetted his lips with brandy. 

Blood oozed from his mouth. 

" Had you not better fetch Mrs. Cart- 
land ?" said George. 

" I think not, sir," said the man ; " and 
if you will take my advice you will go 
before he comes to." 

Just at this juncture the lawyer, whom 
Dr. Cartland had expected, entered the 
the room, and the gentlemen mutually 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 99 

inclined their heads, neither knowing who 
the other was. 

The dying man once more opened his 
eyes, and looked with a scared gesture 
around him. 

'' You here still, Greorge !" he groaned. 
" You told me you forgave me, Why, why, 
don't you go ?" 

" What was it Kate said ? ' The blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin !' " 

" Amen," said Greorge Grafton, 

'' Were those /ler last words ?" 

Harry Cartland's head had been wander- 
ing, he now looked at Greorge as if he did 
not fully comprehend. 

" The last words she spoke before she 
died, poor girl, I mean," explained Greorge. 

Dr. Cartland groaned. 

" Grrafton, I have written you a long 
letter. In that I have told you all there is 

7—2 



100 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEKY. 

to tell with reference to Kate. I have not 
the strength to talk to you now — in pity 
leave me. You will not have long to wait," 
he added, with a sickly smile ; *' give your 
address to my good lawyer here, and the 
day I am buried he will deliver my letter 
to you in person, and help you like a true 
friend in the difficulties I have brought 
upon you." 

The lawyer here whispered to George his 
advice to leave the room, and George Graf- 
ton's and Harry Cartland's hands clasped 
for the last time, the men parted in silence, 
and when George Grafton quitted the room 
Stevens went with him, and Dr. Cartland 
and his lawyer were left alone. He pointed 
to his desk. 

" In there you will find my will," he 
gasped, '' all my papers of importance, and 
some letters, which are to be delivered the 



THE GEEAT MYSTERY. 101 



day of my burial. When you have looked 
over them all you will find that there has 
been a mystery in my life, and I want you 
to know that Mrs. Cartland was not a party 
to the deception I practised. Eemember 
this, as the last words of a dying man, and 
be a friend to her, Saunders." 

''I will," answered the man of law; " I 
promise to befriend your wife." 

Dr. Cartland turned to him with a gesture 
as if on the point of making a disclosure, 
and then sank back. 

'' Not while I live," he murmured. 
" You will all know the worst soon enough, 
it wont be long." 

The door opened softly, as a pale girl 
entered with gentle footsteps. 

" Shall I be in the way ?" she asked, with 
a sad smile. 

" Is that you, darling ?'^ said Dr. Cart- 



102 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

land, the light of love illuminating his dying 
eyes, "I hoped you were sleeping, dear 
love.'' 

" I could not sleep, hushand, I dozed 
once, and woke with such a horrible dream, 
and even after I was awake voices from the 
dead sounded in my ears. Oh, Harry, 
I heard George's voice so plainly. 
Oh ! what have I done ?" she cried. 
" Husband ! husband ! speak to me, and 
you, Mr. Saunders, will you ring for 
Stevens." 

She had seen Mr. Saunders before — he 
had come down to witness Dr. Cartland's 
will with his clerk ; but he had said the 
will was not to be read by any one, not 
even by his lawyer, while he lived, and after 
being duly signed, it was sealed up, and he 
kept it in his own desk. Mr. Saunders 
had been touched by Mrs. Cartland's tender 



THE GEEAT MYSTEEY. 103 

devotion to lier husband, as well as attracted 
to her by her beauty, and most willingly he 
undertook to be her friend. A pleasant, and 
not difficult task, lie thought, to be the 
friend of a rich and lovely young widow, 
especially, being a bachelor himself, with 
very little interest in life, and only a 
moderate amount of clients, and therefore 
only a small income. He was a man with 
an honest and good heart, which accounted 
perhaps for his not having got on better, 
for Sydney Saunders was not fond of dirty 
work, and would never take the case of a 
" black lot" in hand. His friends told him 
he would never get on, he was " too con- 
scientious/' His enemies called him a 
" prig" and a " fool," but Sydney Saunders 
still continued his usual road, making 
enough to live on, and none to spare. His 
thoughts had wandered from his work to 



104 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Mrs. Cartland and her husband's approach- 
ing death. He pictured her in her beauty 
and lonehness, and sighed to think how 
little it was in his power to do for her in 
her sadness, and as was his custom when in 
thought, he fell to humming to himself — 
" What will to-morrow bring ? Who can 
tell?" when his office door opened and 
admitted George Grafton. 

The gentlemen had exchanged addresses 
the day before in Harry Cartland's bed- 
chamber. 

Mr. Saunders was rather surprised to see 
his visitor, but received him courteously. 
George could hardly explain what he had 
come for, he knew that the letter which 
was to tell him something, which he had to 
forgive, would not be delivered till his old 
friend was at rest in his last earthly resting- 
place. Impatience for that time would 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 105 

simply be indecent on his part, and yet lie 
was impatient, not impatient for the death 
of the man who had been his friend, but to 
know what the mystery was that hung over 
his life and enshrouded the death of the wife 
he had loved. Through the slowly drag- 
ging hours of the night he had, bit by bit, 
formed theories, only to cast them aside 
again ; but the last one that had taken 
possession of his mind seemed possible, and 
became fixed there. 

Perhaps Cartland was aware that he had 
not called in medical help in time, he might 
even know he had mismanaged the case, 
and that poor Kate had been a victim to 
his want of care, anything worse than this 
must have been found out at the post- 
mortem. As for Kate being alive that was 
simply impossible. Cartland himself had 
<^ertified to her death, and Dr. Duval liad 



106 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

been in the. room when she died, and all at 
Hazelhurst House had identified her. There 
was no room for doubt about any of those 
facts. But having arrived at this satisfactory 
conclusion, poor George Grafton found sleep 
none the more easy to woo, and he tossed 
restlessly till daylight, and then having 
refreshed himself with a cold bath, descended 
into the unswept hotel among the sleepy 
unwashed waiters who were just beginning 
their day by clearing up, and by noon found 
himself sitting in Sydney Saunders' office. 
That worthy man looked at him scruti- 
nisingly. 

" You are out of sorts, Mr. Grafton. A 
hard night, I should say," he added, with a 
smile. 

" A very restless one," said George, '' for I 
never closed my eyes once, and was floun- 



THE GEEAT MYSTEEY. 107 

dering and gasping for breath ail tlie time, 
in the middle of a huge feather bed. The 
man who invented feather beds ought to be 
introduced to the rack, or the thumbscrew, 
for the tortures he has brought on the mass 
of humanity who have suffered from his 
invention." 

The two men looked at each other, and 
each acknowiedg^ed to himself that the other 
was an honest man, if appearance went for 
anything, and as if mutually drawn together, 
they shook hands, and then Mr. Saunders 
invited George to be seated, and they fell into 
talk, during which Sydney had mentioned 
Dr. Cartland's beautiful wife, and her devo- 
tion to her husband — had acknowledged notto 
have known either of them more than a year 
and a half — had settled a few little matters 
of land for Cartland, and had gone down 



108 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

about his will, and had remained there a 
day or two as guest to the young couple, 
with whom he was charmed. 

" And you don't think there is any 
mystery about his marriage?" 

"None whatever," he answered ener- 
getically ; and then there flashed across his 
mind Dr. Cartland's words that there had 
been a mystery in his life ; but it could not 
refer to his marriage, for he had solemnly 
assured him that Mrs. Cartland had not been 
a party to it ; but he turned the subject as 
quickly as possible, feeling that he was 
treading on dangerous ground, and asked 
George to dinner, and he accepted the in- 
vitation. 

" Bachelors' fare, you know, Grafton, and 
lodging-house cooking," he said, with a 
laugh, " so bring a good ajDpetite with you." 

When we last saw into Harry Cartland's 



THE GREAT ^lYSTEEY. 109 

sick-room, he had fainted at the words 
his wife had uttered. But she, and 
the attentive Stevens, soon brought him 
round again ; and Mr. Saunders took his 
leave, accompanied by the desk which the 
dying man had placed in his charge. 

Then husband and wife were left alone. 
For the most part, they were silent ; the 
silence only broken, now and then, by 
words of love on either side. 

Harry Cartland was sinking fast. All 
night she watched him in the dimly-lighted 
room ; watched him with dumb agony, 
tenderly kissing the hands that lay almost 
passive in her own. 

This then was the end of it; her life 
would cease with his. Not so far as animal 
existence went, but all that made life worth 
living for would be gone ! nothing but the 
husk would be left to her. 



110 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



Ah ! how she wished that she could give 
up life with him, that she might be per- 
mitted to enter the dark valley by his side. 
She should not fear the blackest shadows, if 
she were facing them with him. But to 
remain behind, to meet the cold looks of 
the world alone ; there was no one to whom 
she could apply for comfort. 

By her own act and deed, she had shut 
herself out from all her former friends. 
Even her husband, who loved her more 
than life, felt this, and would never 
let her go anywhere, where there was the 
faintest possibihty of recognition. She felt 
somehow that she was shut out from the 
world, but she counted the world well lost 
for love. And love she had, earnest, 
passionate love, strong even in death ! 

Early next morning, Dr. Duval arrived, 
and after speaking to the sick man, he 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. Ill 

signed to the poor wife to follow him from 
the room. 

Dr. Duval's manners were generally 
rough, but as he took Mrs. Cartland's 
hand in his, and looked at the white face, 
drawn with care and sorrow, his voice 
almost shook, as he told her, she must 
"be prepared for the worst." He told her 
he would' return directly he had seen his 
patients, he thought her husband might 
live yet a few hours, but he would not last 
through another night. 

Mrs. Cartland knew it all before, yet it 
seemed to fall with an overwhelming, 
crushing weight upon her. She staggered, 
seeing which he took her arm, and led her 
to a chair. 

'' Try and bear up, for his sake," he said, 
in a low voice. " Death is a hard thing for 
a man to face, Mrs. Cartland ; make it as 



112 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

easy to him as you can, don't let him suffer 
for you too." 

Dr. Duval had struck the right chord. 
Mrs. Cartland looked up. 

" You are right ; thank you for what you 
have said, Dr. Duval. I will be brave for 
his sake ; it will be time enough to think 
of my sorrows when his are over, poor 
darling." 

" You are a noble woman, Mrs. Cartland. 
I wish there were more in the world like 
you! 

His words seemed a pain to her. 

" My only merit is loving my husband, 
Dr. Duval; and it is lucky for the world 
there are not many v/ho love so well. 
Women without hearts have the best times 
of it ; they take the happiness out of their 
lives, grow fat, never weary themselves, and 
are perfectly contented. And yet," she 



THE GEEAT MYSTERY. 113 

cried, passionately, " I would not give up 
tlie glorious happiness of the last three 
years, for thirty of the ordinary lives of 
women !" and then she added, piteously, 
" don't think me rude, but don't detain me, 
our time is so short together now; don't 
keep me from him !" 

" One word only, Mrs. Cartland, you will 
be very ill if you keep up this strain upon 
mind and body much longer; take an 
hour's rest." 

" Not a moment," she cried, impatiently, 
making for the door. " What time will you 
be back ?" 

" As soon as possible ; about three or four." 
" Then, good-bye for the present." 
The weary-e3^ed woman was soon beside 
her husband's bed again. 

" I need not ask what he said to you, 
love ?" 

VOL. II. 8 



114 THE ED^ZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

She was silent. 

" I know I shall not live out the day. 
Keep quite close to me, love. I am too 
feeble to feel for you." 

She nestled beside him on the bed. 

" That^s right, dear love, I shall now feel 
your sweet breath on my cheek, the warmth 
of your dear arms about me. Perhaps, I 
shall sleep a little, love ; don't leave me, no, 
not for a second." 

Sometimes he stirred, and when he did 
his wife seized the opportunity of giving 
him his medicine and champagne. He 
could no longer eat. 

Dr. Duval came again, and offered to 
remain ; but Dr. Cartland shook his head. 

*' I know what that means, but I would 
rather die in her arms alone." 

" But, Gartland, you must think of her, 
would she not be afraid if you got worse ?'* 



THE GREAT MYSTERY. 115 

" My blessed wife will not be afraid of 
me, alive, or dead, Duval !" 

And she held his death-cold hands, and 
answered bim with a smile. 

Dr. Duval shook the dying man's hand. 

" So be it then, but I shall not leave the 
house, and if I am wanted, you will know I 
am on the spot. Good-by, Cartland. May 
God give you rest !" and he left the room. 

The dying man refused all further 
nourishment. 

*' Don't offer me any more, love." 

So the wife crept up again beside this 
one she had loved, who was now passing so 
quickly away from the reach of her love and 
tender care, and tried to keep him warm; 
but the death- chills would not be stopped 
by human hand. 

His mind wandered over his past life, 
which he referred to in broken words. He 

8—2 



116 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

talked with horror of a death, and of a 
funeral ; but she did not know of whom he 
spoke; he was asking George Grafton for 
his pardon, and then he begged for hers, till 
her gentle words recalled him to himself, 
and he would lay quiet, and then he fell 
asleep, his head pillowed on her breast. His 
mind was tortured even in his dreams. At 
last he sprang up, as if he had regained his 
strength. 

" Come away, Kate !" he cried, " quick, 
quick, they have discovered the mystery. 
Say, you will never leave me, Kate \ 
nothing shall part us ! Kate ! you are my 
wife ; Kate ! " 

A stream of blood was rushing from his 
mouth, making his protest against their 
parting a ghastly mockery. 

Mrs. Cartland put out her hand to reach 
the bell, but there was a look of reproach 



THE GEE AT MYSTEKY. 117 

in her husband's eyes, which she understood. 
He had recovered from the terror of the 
dream, which he had been unable to shake 
off, at first, upon waking. 

Mrs. Cartland understood that he wished 
still to be alone with her, and she did all in 
her power to stanch the blood, which 
flowed for some time ; and then she 
took her place beside him once more. He 
was prostrate from exhaustion, but a smile 
lit up his face, as she laid her hands upon 
his feeble ones ; and so he sunk quite 
gradually away, power of speech was lost 
in weakness, till just at the last, the flame 
of life gave one bright flicker, and he 
said — 

*' Eemember, love, I love you to the last !" 

Once more he opened his eyes. 

" Those words, Kate ; what — were those 
words ? the blood ?" 



118 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

And Kate fell upon her knees, holding the 
almost dead hands, and breathed that blessed 
promise into the failing ears of the dying 
man, who had lived an unbeliever ; and she 
saw that he believed at last ; for a glorious 
smile of intelligence passed across his ashen- 
hued face — lending a beauty even to death it- 
self — and all was still. The spirit had fled, 
but the smile rested still upon the lifeless 
clay. 

And Dr. Harry Cartland was gone, as he 
said, to solve the Great Mystery, which, 
sooner or later, every man must do for 
himself. 




CHAPTER YI. 



FATE. 



m 



HEN Mrs. Cartland knew that death 
had indeed overtaken her husband, 
a stupor fell upon her, and she re- 
mained for hours upon her knees by his 
side. 

Dr. Duval had peeped into the room when 
darkness set in, and found that utter silence 
reigned. 

He roused the prostrate woman, and led 
her forcibly from the room, and tried to get 
her to partake of food, but she turned from 
it with loathing. 

He made her swallow a little wine, and she 
sat with wide open, haunted eyes and listless 



120 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

hands, gazing into space, endeavouring to 
see through the barrier which divided the 
finite from the infinite, which kept her from 
still seeing her love. 

After awhile she rose and crept back to 
her dead ; the moonlight shone upon his 
beloved form — how precious the cold claj, 
even, was to her. 

So she passed the night kneeling there 
beside him, till morning dawned, 

George Grrafton went to dine with his 
new friend, Sydney Saunders, and the two 
men suited each other. 

There is no better cement for forming a 
friendship than that fact. How often people, 
both estimable in their way, may be found 
who don't get on and never will, simply 
because they don't suit. 

Troubled as he was, George felt a pleasure 



FATE. 121 



in this man's companionship ; and while he 
was with him he almost succeeded in 
putting dull care aside ; but when at eleven 
o'clock he found himself alone again, walk- 
ing back to his hotel with the September 
moon shining on his path, a new restlessness 
seized upon him. 

He would go down by the night train to 
Windsor, and walk over to ''The Nook," and 
inquire for his old friend. Of course he 
would not go in, for had they not taken 
their farewell of each other ; there was no 
reason on earth for his going — it was a trick 
of fancy which led him on — it was inexorable 
fate! 

Greorge walked from the station, feeling 
no weariness in the fresh morning air. 
Came upon the river banks, and stopped to 
watch the circles made by rising fish, or 
angler, playing some monster jack on 



122 THE HAZELHURST ]\r5rSTERY. 

greedy feed, as jack nature is of early 
morns. 

He took pleasure in the songs of birds 
above his head, or in bushes by his side ; 
marked the fresh stacks of harvesting just 
thatched with golden straw ; wondered at 
the early smoke that rose through the clear 
sky from the thrifty cottagers' breakfast fires, 
lighted thus soon to send the workmen out 
armed for their toil, and then he came within 
sight of the gables of " The Nook," and 
started to find himself there, as if he had come 
almost without his own consent or knowledge, 
and what was he to do since he was here ? 

It was too early to rouse even the servants 
in the house — only five o'clock — and still 
he wandered on, opening and shutting gates 
mechanically, as if he had a fixed purpose, 
but he had none. 

He entered the shrubbery, and walked 



FATE. 123 



into the garden looking at the flowers, and 
rested on a seat, from whence he noticed 
that all the blinds were down, except in 
one room downstairs, whicli was, he fancied, 
the room occupied by the dying man. This 
he thought so strange, that he longed to 
know why it should be so ; blinds up and 
an open window, enough to kill any sick 
man outright. 

Greorge was not inquisitive by nature, but 
fate was too strong for him. 

The soft lawn went straight up to the 
window ; no crunch of crisp, pebbly gravel 
announced the footstep of the intruder, and 
on he walked to his doom. 

Will nothing in heaven or earth stop him 
ere he looks into that room ? Has God no 
pity, that he can permit a guiltless man to 
suflPer as if he had been the vilest thing on 
earth ? 



124 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

Kate ! here is Nemesis at last, after your 
three years of bliss ! the relentless finger of 
fate itself points the way to the unveiling of 
the myster}'. 

How now for Beryl's broken heart? — 
innocent, lovely, loving Beryl ! Yes, sha 
too must suffer, and her unconscious, name- 
less child. The guilty one has passed to a 
higher tribunal and smiles still, at the 
blessed promise of forgiveness by Kate's 
side. 

George Grafton went up to the window 
opened to the ground, saw the dead man 
lying on his bed with placid upturned face ; 
saw a woman kneeling by his side as if in 
prayer, her dark head buried amidst the 
tumbled clothes where she had writhed in 
agony and misery, praying wordless prayers 
for resignation, and for the peace of the 
soul of her love. 



FATE. 125 



AVhat should George Grafton do there, 
intruding on the grief of the sorrowing wife 
of his dead friend ? and yet something in 
the pose of the prostrate woman chained 
him to the spot. 

Had his salvation depended on his walk- 
ing from that sad sight without another 
look, perdition must have been his doom ! 

His whole being was concentrated into 
one sense ; he watched as if his very life 
depended on what his sight could reveal to 
him ! Yes : and how much more than 
life! 

At last, unable to control himself, he 
stepped into the room, and the movement 
aroused the mourner. 

She gazed at the intruder with wide-open, 
horror-stricken eyes — gazed speechless with 
■agonised terror ; while lie stood eqxially 
iiorribly, silently transfixed. 



126 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

Each to the other in belief — dea d ! 

There, between the two men who had 
loved her, both of whom she had loved — but 
in so different a way — Kate stood, and if sin 
can be expiated by suffering here on earth, 
hers must have been blotted from the book 
of life. Great drops of agony rose like 
pearls upon her ivory brow. 

After a silence which seemed a' lifetime 
to each, George pronounced her name. 

The well-known voice struck upon her 
ear, and was answered by a piercing shriek 
from the wretched woman. 

" What !" she cried, " have you come 
back to life to reproach me ? Why do you 
not rest in your grave ! Oh ! George, I 
was fond of you, but I loved him — oh ! I 
loved him." 

He advanced a step towards her, but she 
waved him back wildly. 



FATE. 127 



" Back from the dead !" she shrieked — 
*' back from the dead ! you have come to 
divide us, but no one can do that — 
keep offl keep off! you shall not touch 
him !" 

Her eyes flashed out lurid light, her 
white arm extended to keep evil from her 
dead. 

Her shrieks and excited tones aroused the 
household, who flocked to the room pale and 
wondering. 

Dr. Duval was the first to enter. Even 
he could not understand the scene, but he 
saw at once that Harry Cartland's widow 
was raving mad. 

The day of the funeral arrived at last,, 
and by force they had to remove the mad 
woman from the room, which she had never 
quitted since she had seen George Grafton, 



128 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

as she supposed, arisen from his grave, to 
part her from her lost love. And now, 
with the cunning of madness, she watched 
the sad procession depart. 

Finding herself locked in, she clambered 
from the window and followed on foot, never 
losing sight of the hearse containing her 
dead. 

They lowered the coffin into the grave. 

" Dust to dust " had been solemnly pro- 
nounced by the officiating clergyman, when 
a terrible scene ensued. 

Kate, unseen before, came suddenly into 
the midst of the astonished party, and 
raising her hands and eyes passionately to 
heaven, she cried, " My love ! my love ! I 
will never leave you," and fell with a wail- 
ing cry heavily to the ground. 

Her grief and beauty touched all who 
^ere present, and she was gently raised and 



FATE. 



129 



placed in one of the carriages, and conveyed 
back to " The Nook," and soon put under 
the care of a keeper, for she was pronounced 
a confirmed maniac, of whose recovery there 
was but little hope. 




TOL. II. 



CHAPTEE YII. 

HARRY CARTLAND's CONFESSION. 




EOEGE aEAFTON was completely 
stunned by tlie discovery of the 
wife he had mourned as dead, being 
alive as the supposed wife of another, the 
agony of mind that he suffered being in- 
creased by the impossibility of extracting a 
word of explanation from the senseless 
maniac. The burthen of her cry being that 
he had come back from the grave to part 
her from her love. Her love ! Ah ! the 
agony to that faithful heart in those self- 
condemning words ! And agony was heaped 
on agony, when he remembered that other 
wife of his, that patient, loving, little being 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION". 131 

who awaited liis coming in a distant land, 
but to return to whom now, would be a sin, 
black as night. 

In his despair the kind face of Sydney 
Saunders came before him, and he turned 
his back upon that house of death, madness, 
and sin — out again into the fields ; not now 
seeing God's hand in the works of Nature 
around him, but going on — on, blindly, on. 

At last he was standing at the office door, 
a wreck of the man who had left it but the 
day before ; sunken cheeks and hollow eyes, 
told their tale of suffering. 

" Good God ! Grafton, what is the matter 
with you ?" asked the lawyer quickly, as he 
looked inquiringly at the other. 

And George Grafton told the story right 
through to his new friend, from the time he 
had parted from his wife at Hazelhurst, up to 
the present, when he had left her a maniac at 

9—2 



132 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

*' The Nook," clinging to her beloved dead. 
As the story proceeded, Sydney Saunders 
could scarcely restrain his excitement. He 
listened, holding his breath lest he should 
lose a word. And now the tale was begun 
and finished, and he found that the woman 
for whom he had taken a romantic fancy, 
had a husband living still, though one was 
deceased, and she was mad. 

And then there returned to his mind the 
words that Dr. Cartland had used when he 
asked him to be his wife's friend. 

" What do you make of it all ?" asked 
George. 

" Why this, Grafton, that Dr. Cartland 
has played a villain's part, and that however 
wrong your wife may have been in her Jove 
for the man, she is innocent of any con- 
nivance with, or knowledge of, this shame- 
ful plot." 



HAEEY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 133 

George grasped the lawyer's hand. 

" Thank yon, for those words, Saunders ; 
weak my wife must have been, but I can 
never believe in her guilt, poor Kate ! poor 
Kate !" And then, after a pause, " And now 
I want your advice. As a man of honour, 
what can I do ? You know I have married 
again, and I have a son by my second wife. 
Oh, God !" he groaned, " never my wife, but 
as pure as an angel of light. In pity tell 
me — tell me what I can do, how I can act 
in such a maze of iniquity. Whatever 
course I take, it seems to me, must be 
fraught with ruin to her — my loving Beryl. 
To return to her as her husband, would be 
blackest treachery and sin ; to leave her 
alone, to bear the shame I have brought on 
her and the child, would be cruelty." 

''Perhaps some honest fellow will make 
her his wife, and comfort her with his love. 



134 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

Grafton. This Mr. Summers of wliom you 
spoke just now." 

" Ah ! if I could but think so ! but no, 
I know her faithful heart too well. She 
will ever consider herself bound to me w^hile 
I live ; my death only can release her, poor 
darling." 

''Don't get such a morbid fancy into 
your head, Grafton !" answered Saunders, 
earnestly. 

" You need not fear for me," said George, 

" I am perfectly sane, and I fear God. I am 
not likely to make away with myself, but I 

should hail death as the best companion I 

coula meet with. I have lived my life ; it 

can hold nothing for me now but misery ; 

but there may be work ibr me to do yet. 

I must wait for this letter which is to tell 

me all." 

Sydney Saunders kept an eye on his 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 135 

friend. He did not like his melancholy 
quietness. 

The days crept slowly by, lead weighted 
to George ; but however laggard time may 
seem, it goes surely, marking its flight by 
days and nights, as it goes to join in the 
Tast circle of eternity. 

At last, as it appeared to George, the 

mortal remains of Dr. Cartland were laid to 

rest. There had been, after all, but five 

little days since the love-light had gone out 

of the eyes that looked on Kate — five days 

since life had ended for George too. When 

he found her — his lost wife — found her ! 

but how ? Five days of numbness ; of dead 

despair. Had he wished for a divorce from 

Kate, her insanity would have precluded it. 

He could never repair the bitter wrong he 

thad done Beryl — his wife — the mother of 

liis only child. 



136 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

Wherever he looked there was nothino^ 
but the blackness of desolation. Nothing 
could help Kate, her state shut her out from 
relief of any kind. She was past pity, past 
love, past blame, past reproach. As dead 
to him, in her incurable madness, as if she 
were ten feet underground, with a tomb- 
stone" as tall as the Monument, or the Tower 
of Babel ! 

Beryl then must be his thought, and yet 
he must never see her again, never look 
into the pure, clear depths of her love- 
laughing eyes, never kiss the carnation lips 
which for him alone had pouted, tempting 
kisses unawares, never stroke the bright, 
fair head with its glory of rippling hair, 
never clasp the fragile form in his arms, 
never press her to his heart, and hear hers 
beat for him. She was lost, lost, lost ! 
How cold had been his return for her love. 



HAEEY CAETLAND'S CONFESSION. 137 

and such love. How unwillingly lie had 
taken her into his life, and having taken 
her, how she had crept into his heart, 
warming it with her warmth and life. 
Still he had kept a chamber in it where 
Kate yet reigned, and in which there had 
been no room for the child- wife. But now 
that she was lost to him, he knew what she 
had been, what she was to him still — the 
dearest thing on earth, a ray of light from 
Heaven, and that life without her would be 
a dreary business, and yet he must so live. 
Not for the happiness of time and eternity 
would he add to the wrong he had already 
done her unknowingly. Poor innocent 
darling. She would suffer, but it was 
better for her to suffer than sin ! Beryl and 
purity were synonymous terms m his mind. 

Sydney Saunders entered his room ac- 



138 THE HAZEL aUEST MYSTERY. 

cording to appointment, and gave Greorge 
the expected letter, which he opened with 
trembling hands. It contained a short note 
and a packet. 

The note ran as follows — 

" My dear Grafton, — Before you receive 
this letter I shall have departed out of this 
world ; my time in it is even now short, 
and while I have still strength I am 
anxious to confess to you, whom I have 
injured, how low I have fallen ; and yet I 
would do it all again, and worse, for the 
happiness the deception has given me. 

" Three years of bliss ! If there be a God 
I thank Him for it ; if there be a hell I am 
content to suffer for it. I should die happier 
if I could have your forgiveness. Much as 
I have injured you, Grafton, I have liked 
you better than other men. 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 139 

*' If you can forgive me, do, and do not 
curse me. My darling is well provided for ; 
she is innocent of all but loving me. If 
that be guilt, she was guilty ; for she loved 
me with a love equal to my own for her ; 
but she married me, believing you to have 
been drowned on your passage to Ceylon. 

" She was ignorant of all that went before, 
as the enclosed packet will show. 

" You are happy with another wife, 
Grafton. Be happy still, and leave poor 
Kate in her present belief that you are 
dead. 

"Good-by, for the last time, George. I 
wish I had injured any other man than 
you — but I would not recall it if I could. 
" Yours, no more, 

" H. Cartlanu." 



The letter fell from George's hand. 



140 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" Married him, believing me to be dead," 
he gasped. '' Poor Kate ! poor, innocent 
Kate, to have fallen into the hands of such 
a villain. Saunders," he cried, laying his 
hand upon his arm, heavily — " Saunders, 
do you hear? she believed me dead — be- 
lieved me dead. Oh, my God ! that for 
three years he can have kept up this farce, 
bringing misery upon the innocent. When 
I think of Kate, and of Beryl, I feel as if 
no curses could be too heavy to heap upon 
the man who has done this thing." 

" Grafton," said Mr. Saunders, '' the man 
is dead ; he has gone to give an account to a 
higher power than man's. If j^ou curse him 
now it can only rebound on your own 
head ; he is past the reach of it. The only 
thing you could do would be to blacken his^ 
memory, and that would be to tell the 
world of the terrible position in which you 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. Ul 

are placed; to bring disgrace on the in- 
nocent woman who believes herself your 
wife. Leave the sinner in God's hands, and 
do 3^our best to shield your poor girl from 
the knowledge of her position. Plead 
business, plead illness ; make any excuse, 
but never let her know the real reason of 
your not returning to her, poor soul. 
Grafton," said he, after a pause, " so in- 
tensely do I feel for your Ber}^ that if it 
could be I would make her my wife, and 
stand by her in her trouble. I have never 
seen her, but what of that ? it would be a 
thing to be proud of to stand up with such 
a woman against the world." 

George grasped the hand of the lawyer, 
and answered in a choked voice — 

" God reward you, Saunders ; and if ever 
my poor Beryl wants a friend I know she 
will find one in you. But not while I live 



142 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

will she believe herself free. Beryl, Beryl, 
my poor child, what can I do with 
you? 

" You have not read Cartland's con- 
fession yet, Grafton,'' said Sydney Saunders, 
anxious to call off his attention from the 
poor girl his love had injured. 

" Bead it to me," said George ; " my eyes 
are dim." 

They were dim ; dim with tears for his 
lost, trusting Beryl ; the treasure he might 
never call his own again as long as he 
lived. 

And the lawyer unfolded and read — 

Harry Cartland's Confession to George 
Grafton. 

From the moment I saw your wife as 
Kate Kerley on your wedding day, I loved 
her, but I studiously kept the secret of 



HAKRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 143 



that love from her. She did not love me, 
and the knowledge of it would insure my 
dismissal from your house with ignominy. 
It was, however, happiness enough to see 
her and to be near her, which our old 
friendship enabled me to be. She grew to 
like me — she grew to love me — how 
gradual it was ; but I found it out one 
glorious evening as she sung. 

Oh ! how she shrunk from me after that ; 
but I was patient, never scaring her with a 
look or a word. I was with her daily, and 
I was content. 

Then you went away and left me still 
free to come and go in your home. How 
could I who loved her resist any longer, 
I stayed away and made her feel lonely. 
Then she protected herself by sending 
for your sister, and I turned that 
against her. I used Miss Grafton to make 



114 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

her jealous, to make her acknowledge to 
herself and me the depth of her love ; not 
for you, her legal husband, but for me — for 
me. The night before your sister left they 
both expected I was going to propose to 
Laura, but I was only maddening Kate. I 
knew I must madden her before I could 
make her acknowledge her love for me It 
was unmanly, but I did it. She left me 
with Miss Grafton, and I found the truth 
or part of it, was necessary. 

I told your sister that I did not mean to 
marry, and she left me and went to her 
room. I lingered on, hoping to see Kate, 
but she never came near me. 

At hist I strolled into the garden — into 
the wilderness. There I found her, a 
white heap prone on the dark damp ground, 
struggling, struggling with her love for me. 
I found her thus, and I loved her madly. 



HAERY CARTLA]S"D'S CONFESSION. 145 

Was it likely that I should forego my ad- 
vantage ? ISTot I. I poured my passionate 
pleading in words of fire into her ears — 
into her heart, and I made her confess her 
love by the violence of mine. 

Ah, my darling, how she clung to me. 
She was mad with the joy of our love. She 
v/ould have left all for love and me that 
night, my sweet darling; but your sister 
was there, and I said we must wait till to- 
morrow, then I would come for her. What 
Kate suffered from the time I left her till I 
saw her asrain I can imasfine, but I cannot 
explain. 

I went to the station thmking it possible 
she might be there with your sister, but if 
not I felt I should be glad to show Miss 
Grafton the civility of seeing her off, after 
which I should know that Kate was alone — 
alone for me. She had not expected me, as 

VOL. II. 10 



146 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

I saw by tlie pallor that overspread her 
face. 

The train was gone, and I handed her 
into my carriage with the determination 
never to part with her again while she and 
I both lived. She was ill and trembling, 
she tried to speak, but with what difficulty 
the words came. 

I drove her to my own house, she was very 
unwilling to enter it, but I told her I must 
talk to her, and she said she too had some- 
thing she must say to me ; so she came in, 
and I had conquered. 

I let her and myself in with a private 
key, no one saw us enter, the carriage had 
driven round to the stable, and I took her 
to my private rooms, where I never 
allowed any foot but my own to enter. I 
threw my arms about her, how she 
■trembled. 



HAERY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 147 

" Kate !" I cried, " mine — mine at last ; 
mine so long as we live — my darling, 
darling, how I love you !" 

I kissed her with untiring lips of pas- 
sionate entreaty, but she only trembled like 
a shaken leaf. I held her in my arms, 
pleading for her consent to stay with me, 
now and ever. I can see now the deadly 
struggle that love and duty held within her 
breast, and then she slipped from my 
embrace, down, down, down, cowering at 
my feet, holding them in her agony — her 
lovely face caressing them. 

" I love you !" she cried. " Oh, my God ! 
I say it and live !" 

How she writhed in the soul-suffering she 
went through. 

I lifted up my darling and placed her 
in a chair, and knelt to her, she should not 
humble herself to me. 

10— :i 



148 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" Kate," I said — " Kate, what does this 
mean ? If jou love me thus why this bitter 
grief? Surely we shall be happy — oh, how 
happy, love !" I cried, triumphantly, holding 
her dear hands in mine, and looking 
into the depths of her troubled, glorious- 
eyes. 

" Harry," she said, calmly, " I ask your 
forgiveness for having deceived you. I love 
you beyond anything and everything on 
earth, but I am George's wife, and I 
must be true to my vows to him. My 
God ! I must, I must !" she cried, pas- 
sionately. 

" Yet, Kate, you would have come with 
me last night. What is the difference be- 
tween last night and to-day? Were you 
not equally his wife then T I asked, re- 
proachfully. 

" Yes, yes, I know ; I am deceitful to you 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 149 



both, but 1 was mad then, and now I am 
sane. Harry !" she cried with excitement, 
" I suffered the tortures of the damned last 
night, after you left. You gave me all 
those hours for reflection, and during them 
I saw the enormity of the sin I had been so 
ready to commit. Not only was I on the 
verge of selling my soul and yours, but of 
breaking the heart of the truest man ever 
born of woman. Harry — Harry — I cannot 
take back my love ; that you have, and it is 
not in my power to take it again, but it is 
in my power to keep from going utterly to 
the devil, and taking you with me, and I 
am determined not to do it. I would rather 
-die." 

" And this is your love !" I cried, gazing 
into the earnest eyes. " This is the love 
which I believed would surpass the love of 
•all women in the world. Oh ! Kate, 



150 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

Kate !" and I who liad never shed a tear in 
my life, fell into a passion of weeping, shaken 
by the sobs of despair and cruellest disap- 
pointment. 

Kate's arms were about me, her lips upon 
my fevered brow. 

" I love you ! hush, hush ! Harry, hush !" 

She soothed me as if I had been a child. 
Her touch added fuel to fire. 

"Kate," I cried, "you shall never leave 
me — never. I swear it. Love is the only 
thing that can bind a man to a woman — a 
woman to a man. We are bound hand and 
foot, body and soul ; we will never part 
again." 

" I must go now," she answered, as if in 
fear. " Good-by." 

Siie rose and held out her cold hand. 

" We will never say that, sweetheart, till 
either you or I die !" I answered firmly. 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 151 



" Let me go !" she pleaded. 

" Go where, Kate ?" 

" Home," she answered, trembhng. 

" My darling, you are at home, and by 
the God you believe in you shall never leave 
me for any other," and I left the room, care- 
fully locking it after me, to go and see for 
some dinner for my darling. I must get it 
from a pastrycook's and bring it in myself, 
so as to arouse no suspicion in the minds of 
the servants. There was no bell in the 
room. Kate could not call for assistance, 
and the suite of rooms were lighted from the 
roof She was safe, and undoubtedly mine. 
Just as 1 was leaving the house Fate put into 
my hand a tool which made it easy for me 
to keep Kate without suspicion. There was 
an earnest request that I should hurry out to 
see a young woman who had been taken very 
ill, and was now in a cab outside. I went 



162 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEET. 

to see her at once, and found that she was 
in a dying state from congestion of the 
lungs. 

It was evident that the girl had a history, 
but she would not tell me a word of it, and 
answered my questions with pain and diflB.- 
culty. She said she had no home and no- 
where to go, and asked if I would give her 
an order of admission to one of the hospitals. 
She had dark hair, dark eyes, and small 
features, not unlike Kate's, and was about 
her height, but she was older and thinner ; 
still the likeness tempted me. I told her I 
would take her to a respectable lodging I 
knew of, and getting into the cab with her 
I bade the man drive to Kentish Town, 
trusting to luck for what I wanted. 

Yes, that would do, and I stopped the 
cab and went in, and had a talk to the land- 
lady. She was very needy, and not very 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 153 



inquisitive. She undertook to nurse the 
young lacl}^, and helped her in. I knew she 
could not recover. I knew, also, that who- 
ever she was, she meant to keep her secret, 
for she would give me no clue to it. This 
was Saturday. I paid the landlady well, 
and she did all she could for the dying 
woman, but nothing could save her. 

I went back to Kate, took her dinner to 
-her myself, and did my best to make her 
comfortable. She sat by the fireplace, 
silently looking at the empty hearth, her 
hands lying feebly in her lap. She only 
•spoke to me once — she asked me to let her 
go home. I told her I had telegraphed to her 
servants that she was too unwell to return, 
and that she would remain with friends for 
a day or two. She looked up at me. 

" I am unwell, Dr. Cartland. This will 
kill me ; let me go home." 



154 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

It was all in vain. 

" I am going to kill you, Kate/' I 
laughed, "in a way you little dream of/' 

Even she smiled, never for a second 
imagining what I meant — how should she ? 
— smiled at the idea of my killing her. I did 
my best to make her happy and comfortable. 

" Kate," I said, straining her unwilling 
form to my breast, " I will never ask you 
to be a wife to me till you can tell me you 
stay of your own free will." 

"And that will never be while George 
lives I Harry, be content with my love ; 
ask no more of me, I can be no more to 
you. It is not too late even now ; let me 
go, love, don't keep me like a caged bird, or 
I may learn to hate you. Come and see 
me as you used to do. I can't live quite 
without you, dear, but don't disgrace me 
before all the world. Don't, Harry — don't^ 



HAREY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 155 

I could not bear it," lifting tearful eyes to 
mine. '' You may keep me here a year — two 
— ten — but I can never be more to you than 
I am now," she cried, with flushed cheeks. 

" Very well, Kate, so be it ; but if you 
knew that George was dead, how soon then 
would you become my wife?" grasping her 
arm tightly, and awaiting her reply. 

'' You wouldn't kill him !" she gasped, 
with dilated nostrils and wide-open eyes, 
like a frightened horse. 

" Kill him ! bah, child— no ! Come, tell 
me how soon ?" 

"When I cease to be his I am yours, 
love," she answered, earnestly. " While he 
lives — Never !" 

I kissed and left her, then sent a " com- 
missionaire" down to Hazelhurst for some 
clothes for her, and took them to her when 
they arrived. The next day the stranger- 



156 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

woman died. In her extremity I sent for 
another doctor whom I knew slightly — Dr. 
Duval, a man who had lived abroad all his 
days, and we were both with her when life 
xjeased. Then I had the body dressed in one 
of Kate's night-dresses, which I had ab- 
stracted from the bag her maid had sent 
from Hazelhurst. 

On Monday I ordered the cofl&n. On 
Tuesday I took her down there as your wife, 
and buried her by her name. I had noticed 
the scratch on Kate's arm — I made one on 
that of the dead woman, in case of any in- 
vestigation. 

Miss Ansell suspected me, but she could 
prove nothing, and the body was sworn to 
by Kate's own maid. 

Great was my relief when the funeral was 
over. A week I had kept my darling under 
lock and key, still she was obdurate, shrink- 



HAERY CAETLAND'S CONFESSION. 157 

ing from me. My love had made no way 
with her — she was faithful to you, Greorge. 

On the Saturday morning I opened my 
newspaper and read — 

" Loss of the ' May Queen,' and all hands 
on board !" 

How eagerly I scanned this short notice. 
The " May Queen" was supposed to have 
struck on the Maldive Rocks. A vessel had 
picked up some timber bearing her name, 
and that was all that was left to tell the tale 
of this dreadful loss of life and property. 

The quick blood rushed through my 
veins, and crushing the paper into my 
pocket I walked up to Kate's rooms. She 
was sitting listlessly as usual, and hardly 
looked up as I entered. 

" Kate," I said, my heart knocking hard 
against my ribs — "Kate," I said, with sub- 
dued passion, "you told me the other day that 



158 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

if you were free you would be mine at 
once, did you not ?" 

" I did, Harry, and I repeat it ; but I am 
not free, and you are bringing ruin and 
disgrace on me by detaining me here." 

Her lips trembled painfully, and she 
clasped and unclasped her hands — too ner- 
vous to keep still. 

" My darling !" I cried, " you are free ; 
come, come to me !" 

She sprang from her chair, a look of 
horror was on her face. She caught blindly 
at something to support her, and asked 
with trembling — 

'^ George— is ?" 

I finished the sentence for her — " Dead ! 
Yes, Kate, drowned ; the ' May Queen' has 
gone down with all hands on board." 

She sunk back into her chair — dazed. 
^She passed her restless hand across her brow 



HARRY CARTLAND'S CONFESSION. 159 

again and again. After awhile she asked 
to see the paper lierself, and then without 
another word she came and put her arms 
about my neck. 

" My love can liurt no one now, dear. I 
am yours now poor George has gone. Tell 
nie you love me, Harry, or my heart will 
break." 

My answer was to pour out upon her the 
pent-up passion of my soul. Now then, at 
last, she was truly mine. She had given 
herself up to me quivering in response to 
my wild embraces. Oh, how I loved her. 
Before noon next day she was my wife. We 
were married by special licence, with no one 
to witness to the validity of the marriage 
but the clergyman, the clerk, and the old 
woman who cleaned the church. They 
managed everything between them, and I 
took my dear wife straight away to Dover, 



160 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

and thence to the Continent, to travel, for 
she had altered sadly during that one week 
I held her in captivity. And then for me 
there came an awakening. We were mar- 
ried, and Kate was unknowingly a bigamist. 
You still lived. You had been saved, I 
found, with others, from the wreck. To 
tell Kate this would have been to lose her, 
and worse than that to cause her the most 
fearful remorse and misery. All believed 
her dead. It was impossible for her to 
return to her old home, or to your relations. 
I watched over her, allowing neither people 
nor papers to come near her, till I feared 
the complete loss of my practice unless I 
looked after it a little. I had left Duval 
to attend to it. When we had been mar- 
ried three months T took Kate home. We 
lived at an hotel till I found '' The Nook," 
where I settled with my darling happily. She 



HAKEY CAETLAND'S CONFESSION 161 

grieved for you as for a lost brother, but 
gave me all the love and worship of her 
woman's heart. Poor Kate, my wish was 
law to her. I begged her never to go 
out anywhere without me, and she obeyed 
me to the letter. Ours was perfect love 
and complete happiness. She never knew 
of your rescue, never knew of your marriage, 
to the girl with the romantic name which I 
forget. If she ever hears of one or the 
other, George, it will break her heart. 
Remember she was true to you in tempta- 
tion, and spare her. No one but you and 
Saunders need ever know of this, and he 
has promised to befriend my darling. I 
alone am to blame. Kate is innocent. He 
will take care this reaches you, and if you 
wisely decide to remain in Ceylon no un- 
pleasant revelations can ever be made to 
your wife. Women are apt to try and dis- 

VOL. II. 11 



162 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

cover your secrets if they think there is 
any mystery. 

" H. Cartland. 
*'June, 187 /' 

The lawyer and the cHent sat silent 
after the above revelation. What was there 
to say? The sinner was dead. The sinned 
against suffering. The former was beyond 
the reach of punishment, the latter was past 
the hope of help. Then there came to 
George the remembrance of that text which 
before he had never seen much sense in — 
"Thy strength shall be to sit still." 





CHAPTER VIII. 

MISS ANSELL DOES HER DUTY. 

EOEGE GEAFTON had an interview 

with Miss Ansell. She was Kate's 

only relation, and he thought, hard 

as she was, she would be moved to pity, and 

he was right. 

He felt that the sight of him could only 
make Kate more violent, believing him to 
be an avenging spirit. He longed much to 
take her in his arms, and to give her one 
kiss of forgiveness, but feared the sight of 
him would harm her. He told Miss Ansell 
his sad story word for word, and asked her 
advice. 

Never before had the austere old woman 

11—2 



164 THE HAZELHTJEST MYSTERY. 

been overtaken by weakness. But now tears 
chased each other down her wrinkled cheeks 
and she kissed Greorge ! and told him that 
never from her lips should any one hear of 
the mystery that had overshadowed his life ! 

She offered to receive Kate and a woman- 
keeper, and promised to see that she was 
treated with care and kindness, and then 
she asked in a troubled voice about Beryl, 
and George told her that he was going to 
keep her in the dark as long as possible, but 
tbat he would not return to her. 

He confessed that he had not made up his 
mind what he should do yet, but that he had 
decided he and Beryl must never meet again; 
and Miss Ansell, grasping his hand, blinked 
away her tears to look at him, for, as she 
remarked, he was the first good man she 
had met with in the course of her long 
life. 



MISS ANSELL DOES HER DUTY. 165 

So they agreed that the secret should rest 
with those three (themselves, and Mr. Saun- 
ders), not even Dr. Grafton was to know of 
the sad trouble that had fallen on Greorge — 
Ills son. 

Kate was once more received under her 
aunt's roof. 

The old woman had prepared for her a 
suite of newly chintzed rooms, and the poor 
maniac had settled down to her objectless life. 

She was seldom violent, but utterly listless. 
Her love of flowers seemed all that was left 
to her of the past. Memory appeared to have 
failed. At times, if anything reminded her 
of her lost love, she broke out. The tolling 
of a bell drove her frantic, but she had not 
the reason to tell you why. 

She became a shadow of the Kate of 
olden times — beautiful still, but sad to look 
upon. There was now no sense in the large 



166 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

dark eyes that looked so unnaturall}^ big in 
her pale sunken face. 

Anything pretty attracted her, as if she 
were still a child. 

Miss An sell had a liberal allowance with 
her, and did all in her power to make 
her happy; bought her flowers and fruits, 
and all the things she showed any plea- 
sure in. She drove or walked daily with her 
attendant, and on one of these excursions 
took a fancy to a small dog at a cottage door. 
The dog was something for her to love, 
and the poor unreasoning creature clung to 
it wildly, crying if it were taken out of her 
sight. 

Everything went on quietly in the old 
maid's establishment. Kate had her dog 
and was happy ; the past being mercifully 
hidden from her. 

Kate's money made Miss Ansell's cir- 



MISS ANSELL DOES HER DUTY. 167 

cumstances easy ; not that she would have 
hesitated to receive her great niece if she had 
been penniless, for she considered it her duty. 
And George had gone home to stay with 
his parents. The strain upon his nerves at 
last had worn him nearly out. His father 
feared brain fever, and called in fresh 
advice ; it proved to be but too true, and 
George Grafton lay between life and death. 
Mrs. Grafton, not knowing her son's sad 
secret, did the one thing which in all the 
world he would have wished her to leave 
undone — she wrote and told Beryl. 




CHAPTER IX. 



HOPES AND FEARS. 




EOEGrE had tender nurses in his 
mother and sisters, but the grim 
scythe-bearer was strong, and he, 
worn out with trouble and sickness, was 
very weak, but fought every inch of ground 
manfully, amidst the hopes and fears of his 
relations. 

If he had had happiness and love to live 
for, he could not have made a harder struggle 
of it, and at last he got the upper hand, 
and was pronounced out of danger. 

Then, week by week, day by day, he 
dragged on wearily the long hours of weak- 
ness, strengthening as slowly as the 



HOPES AND FEARS. 169 

lengtlienino- light of Spring's earliest 
^ays. 

And all the time Beryl and her child are 
<joming — coming, as fast as they can. 

When little Beryl got her mother-in-law's 
letter, she was beside herself with grief; but 
directly she saw that it was her duty to go 
to him, she roused herself to action, packed 
tip and started, as if she were accustomed 
to life's buffets. 

Ah ! the hopes and fears of that loving 
heart. Each oscillation of the screw throbbed 
to some troubled thought of Greorge; Even 
the horror of being again on shipboard was 
lost in the agony of her mind to see him 
once more, to know that he still lived and 
loved her. 

It was so far off! such a long way to 
go to him — might he not be worse before 
she reached England ? shivering and awe- 



170 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

stricken, she asked herself. Might he not 
be dead ! dead ! dead ! 

She strained her eyes for the white cliffs 
of Albion — her sinking heart sick with sus- 
pense. How should she find him ? alive or 
dead ? 

At anchor at last ! Such a scene of con- 
fusion, that small Beryl is bewildered utterly 
— the steam is being let off with deafening 
noise and blinding mist. A thick Novem- 
ber fog lies dark and heavy upon land and 
sea. Eager faces looking out for friends on 
shore, hidden by the thickness of the atmo- 
sphere. Sailors and passengers hurrying to 
and fro, luggage bumping and banging on 
the deck, cries of porters and hotel-touters 
on the quay, greeting of acquaintances, faces 
bright with happiness, faces blank with dis- 
appointment, faces flushed with expectancy, 
faces pinched by sorrow, faces blue witK 



HOPES AND FEARS. 171 

cold, all — all — going on shore ; and among 
them Beryl and her boy, and no one has 
come to meet her. 

She feels this with a sense of blankness — 
of disappointment, and puts it away with 
impatience. 

How should they know she was coming ? 
Of course they couldn't, it was absurd of 
her to have expected it ; and she hurried to 
the station, and on again to find George, 
and there she is at last at Dr. Grafton's 
door, with panting heart and small worn- 
out body, inquiring for Mr. George 
Grafton ! 

'' Mr. George was better," the servant 
said, looking curiously at the agitated 
face before him — " better, and out of danger, 
but very weak 1" 

And poor Beryl, the strain taken off which 
had held her nerves at tightest tension for so 



172 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

long, collapsed, and would have fallen to the 
ground but for the strong arms of the ser- 
vant, which found no difficulty in support- 
ing the little body and carrying her into his 
master's surgery. 

Beryl was not expected. How were the 
Graftons to know that she would undertake 
such a weary journey all alone. They did not 
know the girl, and her loving heart, or they 
might have done so ; and to their surprise 
Greorge had never mentioned her to them, 
and if they brought her name on the tapis, 
he shrank with such visible pain from the 
subject, that they were not inclined to care 
for the small creature, and were surprised 
(not pleasantly) to learn that a little woman 
with a fine baby — a servant — and numerous 
large boxes had arrived, and that the former 
was lying insensible in the surgery. 

Dr. Grafton, however, went to her at once, 



HOPES AND FEAKS. 17^. 

and looking on her still, sweet face, confessed 
to himself it was angelic, and fell in love 
with her on the spot. 

It was not long before tiie blue eyes un- 
closed to look at him, and he leaned over the 
girl and told her who he was, and she 
gave him two little hands and called him 
" Father." 

She entreated to be allowed to go at once 
to her husband — it would be such a pleasant 
surprise for him. 

Dr. Grafton said that George was asleep. 

" Oh r cried Beryl, '' I will not disturb 
him; I will creep in so quietly, and sit 
beside him ; and when he wakes he will find 
me there." 

Dr. Grafton smiled. He would rather 
his son had been told of the advent of his 
wife; but he had not the heart to cause a 
cloud on the eager little face, turned up to 



174 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

him so confidingly, and lie did not believe a 
joyful shock would hurt any one. So Beryl 
had her way ; and after being introduced to 
her new relations, and leaving them " baby" 
to amuse, she crept, with gentle feet to her 
husband's door, into the room, gazed upon 
the sleeping face with an intense longing to 
run and kiss her darling, resisted the inno- 
cent temptation, and seated herself beside the 
bed, almost hidden by the curtains which 
hung from the Arabian top ; and from there 
she watched the dear face. How altered it 
was ! altered and pain-stricken. 

What he must have suffered, to have 
brought such lines and care-marks on the 
brow that was so placid, and in her grief 
for his sufferings, a slight cry escaped her 
lips. His name, uttered with such gentle- 
ness and sorrow, such tender passion and 
<jompassion. It was so soft, it might have 



HOPES AND FEARS. 175 

been breathed by some being from another 
world ; but, slight as the sound was, it had 
aroused him ; or perhaps it was the un- 
known influence merely of Beryl's presence. 
But George stirred, moved uneasily, and 
repeated, in a tone of such unutterable 
anguish — 

" Lost — lost, lost ! Beryl, my little Beryl, 
lost, lost — lost !" 

"Oh, George," cried the small wife, 
" wake, love, wake !" 

Better to wake than to dream such 
dreams, she thought, as she rose and bent 
over him, looking at the horror of his 
awakened face. 

" Greorge," she pleaded, " I am not lost. 
I am here, my love. I am here with you, 
and I will never leave you again." 

For one moment his face lighted up as 
with sunshine, and he held out his eager 



176 THE HAZELHUUST MYSTEEY. 

arms to clasp her ; but before sbe had time 
to shelter there, he dropped them, with ao 
exceeding bitter cry — 

"Never again, while I live !" and lay in 
a stupor as of death. 

" Father in Heaven," prayed Beryl, sink- 
ing on her knees, " give him back to me,, 
and show me how to comfort him." 

And then she rang the bell, and loving^ 
faces gathered round the bed. Beryl stood 
there, white and motionless. 

Dr. Grafton whispered — 

" It was mad of me to let you go to him ; 
the shock has been too much." 

But George Grafton pulled through, and 
again awoke to find his wife by his side, 
with painful pleasure ; lying quietly with a 
half- smile, while she caressed him, wonder- 
ing, oh ! how she wondered, that he gave 



HOPES AND FEARS. 177 

her no welcome, that she was not asked into 
his arms to nestle there. 

And then she brought the boy, and at 
sight of him Greorge's breast swelled con- 
vulsively, and Beryl's gentle heart was torn 
by his sobs of agony, and she gently, but 
firmly, took him in her arms. 

"George," she said, "you are in some 
trouble, this is not the effect of illness. I 
am your wife, and I have the right to share 
it, and share it I will." 

"Beryl," he moaned, "I am in trouble, 
bitterest, sorest trouble; but I cannot tell 
it to you. It would break your heart, as it 
has done mine," and then, after a pause, he 
broke out, passionately, " for the love of 
God, leave me. Beryl \ leave me, and let me 
never look upon your face again. Oh, my 
darling, my darling ! I am weak. It 

VOL. IT. 12 



178 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

drives me mad to see you by me, and know- 
that to clasp you to my heart would be a 
sin. Help me, Beryl ! help me ! be brave, 
and go away while there is yet time, before I 
yield to this cruel temptation to hold by you, 
in defiance of the laws of Grod and man. Go, 
child, go ; you cannot, must not, stay here." 
She looked at him, with despair gnawing 
at her heart. Was he mad ? her love, her 
darling, her own dear husband, that he 
should wish to send her from him. His 
little Beryl, his loving wife ! White as 
death, she stood looking at him ; her blue 
eyes all pupil, and darkness in the horror of 
her gaze, her small hands clasped and 
locked, as if she were struggling for life. 

George saw her soul's suffering, and 
crying— 

" Once more, love 1" he drew her to him 
eagerly, and held her to his heart in a 



HOPES AND FEAES. 179 

passionate embrace. " May God bless you, 
dear one, and protect you from harm. Now 
go and ask my father to come to me. I 
want to talk to him alone." 

"Alone? Without me?" she asked, 
lifting her wondering eyes to his. 

" Yes ; without you, little one. Beryl, I 
must learn to do without you." 

" It wont be for long, George. How long 
will this talk last ? ten minutes ? If you 
are more, I shall come back!" 

And she left him with a smile — a smile 
called to her lips by the renewed pressure of 
the arms that had clasped her so tenderly, 
though with such wild words — and she 
sought her father-in-law, half in joy, half 
sorrow, and when she had found him, she 
seated herself at his feet, and took posses- 
sion of his hands, and looked up, with 
affectionate confidence, in his face. 

12—2 



180 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

"Father, George's father, you wouldn't 
deceive me, would you ?" 

" Deceive you, child ; indeed I would not. 
Who could look into your trusting face and 
•do so? No one, surely." 

"I am so glad you like me," she said, 
with a half-shy smile of pleasure. " Will 
you please tell me what brought on George's 
illness ?" 

" I cannot do that child, for it has been a 
puzzle to me." 

" Father," said Beryl, putting one hand 
impressively on his arm. " You — you don't 
think," hesitating between each word, 
" that — that he is mad !" 

" Good heavens, child, mad ! such a 
thing as madness has never been heard of 
in our family. Mad, indeed. He has of 
course been delirious. Brain fever is no 
joke, I can assure you ; but all his painful 



HOPES AND FEARS. 181 

fancies have left him with returning healths 
He will be able to take you about soon 
again, my dear, and you will find him sane 
enough, I'll warrant." 

" And yet," said Beryl simply, while 
tears stood in her eyes, " he has been asking 
me to go away and leave him, and never to 
let him see me any more. I love him so, 
that it is hard to bear," her tears falling 
silent]}^ and fast, " and yet he clasped me 
to him as if it were pain to part with me. 
Oh ! he does love me — he does, he does.'' 

Dr. Grafton regarded her pityingly. 

" You have vexed him child, run, tell him 
you are sorry, and he will soon dry those 
tears, or I am not acquainted with my son," 
he said with, an honest laugh. " Lovers' 
quarrels are soon mended little Beryl." 

"Dr. Grafton," she said earnestly, 
" George and I have never, never, had a 



182 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

quarrel in our lives, never one word of 
disagreement." 

Her father-in-law looked at her and kissed 
her forehead. 

"Beryl," he said, "I feel sure, at any 
rate, you are in no way to blame." 

" Thank you," she answered ; " and now 
T must deliver you George's message. He 
wishes to see you at once, and I am not to 
be present ;" but I shall not be very patient, 
and if you don't call me soon I shall come 
without." 

And Beryl slid away quietly, leaving Dr. 
Grafton free to answer his son's summons. 

" I can't understand it," he muttered — " I 
can't understand it. An angel for a wife, 
a cherub for a son, a good income, and yet 
the lad is miserable, broken-hearted. What 
can it all mean — poor George." 

In another minute he was in his son's 



HOPES AND FEAES. 183 

room, looking into his pale, agitated face, 
*' You sent for me, George ?" 

''Yes, father." 

Dr. Grafton sat down beside him. 

" George, you are weak and ill, and I 
fear give way to nervous fancies. You have 
scared poor little Beryl out of her wits. 
What have you said to her ?" 

" Father," said George, " I have tried to 
•bear the burden alone, but it has got 
beyond me, I must now have your help and 
advice. If Beryl had not come home it 
might have been kept secret. Oh, why did 
she come — why did she come?" 

" Because," said Dr. Grafton, regarding 
him gravely — "because she valued you. 
George, more than you seem to value 
her; because she knew you were ill, and 
because she is your wife." 

'' Oh, God !" cried George, " that is the 



184 THE HAZELHURST MYSTEEY. 

bitterness of it, she is not my wife — my 
God, she is not !" looking with despair into 
the blank dismay of his father's face. 

" Not your wife ?" said Dr. Grafton ; 
" do I hear you aright ? George !" 

"You do, indeed." 

" Then George," cried the old man, 
rising in agitation, " you — you are — a 
scoundrel. Such a child — so sweetly inno- 
cent. My God ! I can t believe that a son 
of mine could be so dastardly a coward. 
It is impossible, George. You must be 
mad !" 

"Likely enough," answered he sadly. 
" I have had enough to make me so, but I 
sent for you, sir, to ask your help, not to 
hear your reproaches. May God judge me 
if I have wilfully wronged Beryl. She is all 
you say, and more ; my greatest sin against 
her was not giving her such a wealth of 



HOPES AND FEAES. 18& 

love as she has bestowed upon me ; but I 
have loved before, and she had not. Still 
I made her my wife honestly, intending to 
make her happy, and I think I succeeded.'*^ 

'' For Heaven's sake, George, recollect 
yourself. A moment ago you said she was 
not your wife, and now you say you made 
her your wife. What do you mean ?" 

" Both things are true," said George, '' I 
did make her so, believing myself free to da 
it, but I was not. Kate is alive, and Beryl 
is not my wife." 

Dr Grafton staggered like one drunk. 
The father and son talked long and earnestly 
over the sad case, tried to hit upon any plan 
by which Beryl might be spared the know- 
ledge of the cruel position in which she 
was placed ; but no such plan was feasible, 
Such a woman as George's wife could not be 
put off with an excuse. She would never 



186 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

consent to leave liim while she believed 
herself to be his wife. She must be told 
the truth, whatever the consequences might 
be — the truth, the whole truth, and nothing 
hut the truth I 

George told his father the whole story, 
which Dr. Cartland's confession had put 
Jiim in possession of, and now it had all to 
be told again, for Beryl was at the door, 
asking to come in. 

"It is better so," said Dr. Grafton, 
" better got over at once." 

And Beryl came in, and standing between 
the two looked first at one pale face and then 
at the other, speechless, not knowing what 
she had to fear. 




CHAPTER X. 



BERYL S CHOICE. 




ERYL," said Dr. Grafton, tenderly 
leading her to a chair, " we are in 
great trouble ; will you try not to 
-add to it, child — by being brave ?" 

" Yes " (with trembling wonder), " If it 
is anything very, very bad, let me hold 
<jreorge's hand." 

And he stretched it out to her at once. 
" George, will you tell her, or shall I ?" 
said the old man, shrinking from the pain- 
ful task. 

" I cannot," answered George, pitifully. 
" Oh, go on !" said Beryl ; " what — what 
is it?" 



188 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

" Little Beryl," said Dr. Grafton, " you 
love George, and would do anything to 
save him pain ; from more pain than is 
necessary." 

" I love him," answered Beryl, with 
bright, eager eyes, " and would do anything 
to save him pain !" 

" Then listen, dear child. If after a year 
and more of married life, George had found 
that — that — there had been a flaw in the 
legality of your marriage, you would be 
sensible, and not distress him by asking him 
to continue those ties unlawfully, however 
much he might love you, would you not, 
little Beryl ?" 

She grew whiter than a snowdrop, stand- 
ing with bent neck, meekly by. 

'' I would ask him," she answered, while 
her cheeks flushed with excitement — " I 
would ask him to send for a clergyman, and 



BERYL'S CHOICE. 189 



marry me at once — again ; that there might 
be no flav/. I would ask him, because flaw 
or no flaw, I am his wife before God !'' 

Then silence, broken by George. 

" But darling ! if it was worse than a 
flaw, an obstacle — an obstacle which no 
human power could remove, what would 
you do then ?" 

"I would pray to God, and He would 
remove it," she answered, with earnest 
solemnity. 

" Beryl, Beryl, it is now as it was when 
I talked to you that day before we were 
married. Do you remember ?" cried George, 
in an agony. 

" Yes, I remember, you said you were 
going to leave me, and I said I would 
follow you wherever you went." 

" Yes, love ! and I gave way to you, little 
•dreaming of the misery which I should 



190 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

cause jou, and now the time has come, my 
darling, when we must part." 

" Part," cried Beryl, with defiant misery, 
" you cannot send me from you now, for 
noiD I am your wife." 

" Would to God that you were, Beryl — 
my little love ! try, try, for my sake, to 
bear it, you are not my wife, my poor 
darling Kate is alive.'' 

Beryl uttered no cry, shed no tear, she 
threw out her arms, as if to ward off the 
blow with her tiny hands, but all so 
silently, so sadly. She looked all the time 
at Greorge like a somnambulist, making no 
sign of her suffering. 

" Do you understand me, little love ?" 

" I believe so ;" she answered, " I am not 
really your wife ! she did not die after all." 

" Yes, that is it, love ! and my Beryl sees 
that she must try and make herself happy 



BERYL'S CHOICE. 191 



away from me." George's voice trembled 
ominously. 

" George/' she said, gathering herself 
together, " are you going back to — to 
her?" 

"No, no, my precious darling." 

" George," she went on, " do you still 
love me ?" 

"My darling," he cried, passionately, 
" God knows I love you, I never knew how 
dearly, till I had lost you ! You are dearer 
to me than all the world beside, little one !" 

" And you are dearer to me than all the 
world, George,'^ with a fine smile, drawing 
up her slender neck. "I choose you in 
preference to the world !" 

"Beryl," said Dr. Grafton, "you are too 
innocent to understand, but believe me you 
cannot continue in your present position, as. 
George's supposed wife." 



192 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

The girl looked at him unflinchingly. 

"Why?" 

*' Good heavens, child ! how, how can I 
answer you ?" he cried impatiently ; '' you 
don't know what the world would say of 
you." 

" Let the world say what it likes, I will 
never leave George while he and I live. 
I will be to him whatever he likes, his wife 
still if he will, his companion, his friend, 
his servant, but when you ask me to leave 
him, I say never, never." 

" Greorge," said Dr. Grafton, " perhaps 
your mother can explain to her better than 
we can how impossible such an arrangement 
would be," and he left the room to seek his 
wife. 

Beryl threw herself on George's breast. 

" George," she moaned, " if you send me 
from you, I shall die !" 



BERYL'S CHOICE. 193 

" But, my little Beryl, you would not 
wish to stay with me if it were wrong — a 
smr 

'' It has not been a sin up to now, love. 
How can it be more a sin than it has been ?" 

" Beryl," said Greorge, with a shade of 
impatience, " you are a perfect child still !" 

" And you wont send me avv^ay, dearest^ 
will you?" asked the girl, stroking his hag- 
gard face. 

"Beryl! Beryl! for God's sake don't 
tempt me," cried the man, trembling with 
the excitement he endeavoured to calm, and 
Beryl trembled too — trembled with pleasure 
that he still loved her so — trembled with 
fear lest he should send her from him — 
trembled that for love she could give up 
right, but never swerved from her decision. 

" George," she said solemnly, " it cannot 
be wrong to love as I love you. God would 

VOL. II. 1*^ 



194 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

not plant such undying affection in my heart 
just for it to wither and die ; if we married 
not knowing there was a barrier between us, 
the fault was not ours, it does not release 
ns from our vows. George, we cannot part ! 
what would become of me ? what would 
l)ecome of baby if you forsake us ?" she 
pleaded earnestly. 

Greorge did not answer for some time. A 
passionate war ^vas raging in his lieart — 
this little wdfe of his ! how could he give 
her up? how could he break her gentle 
spirit and kill her confiding love? She 
would learn to hate him if he sent her from 
him, and how could she buffet wdtli the 
world alone, with no strong arm to protect 
her. God 1 and what would his life be 
without her, with no one to love him, no 
one to love. The temptation was very 
strong. 



BEEYL'S CHOICE. 195 

" Beryl," he cried passionately — '* Beryl, 
can you sin for me — can you meet with scorn 
for me — be looked upon as a vile thing 
among men and women for my sake — be an 
outcast from society and lose your self- 
respect, all — all, for me ?" 

She looked at him with a pale, firm face ; 
the blood had forsaken her lips, but she 
trembled no longer. 

" Yes, Greorge, I can and will." 

" Then may God help you, child, and for- 
give me," he cried, gathering her to him 
with hungry eagerness. 

This was Beryl's choice. 




18- 



CHAPTER XI. 



GONE ! 




RS. GEAFTON spoke seriously to 
Beryl, and did all she could to break 
the resolution she had formed to 
stand by her son, but all her talk availed no- 
thing. The girl was gentle, but as firm as a 
rock. Dr. Grafton said a great deal to George, 
but his own conscience said more ; he had 
ever been in every sense of the word, an ho- 
nourable man, and now he told himself he 
was on the verge of becoming a scoundrel ! 

If a pure innocent creature like Beryl 
was willing to sully her purity and innocence 
for him because of her deep love for him, 
surely he ought to be man enough to shield 



GONE ! 197 



lier from herself, and from the sin and its 
<consequences that her devotion would bring 
upon her. 

It was so sweet to think of having her 
by his side through life, that the battle was 
a hard one, but George's good angel won the 
victory, and though he knew what a blank 
his life would be from henceforth, he decided 
to save Beryl in spite of herself, and he felt 
more at peace than he had done since he had 
received Miss An sell's letter in Ceylon, 
which overshadowed him with the cloud of 
the terrible mystery which had since come 
to light. 

Greorge had a long confidential talk with 
his father^ and the upshot of it was, that 
George was to go away without anybody 
knowing where, except his father, and Beryl 
was still to be called " Mrs. George," and 
was to remain with her child as a daughter, 



198 THE HAZELHUKST MTSTEEY. 

under the doctor's roof. This would shield 
her from any remarks that might otherwise 
be made by good-natured Mrs. Grrundy. 

By this arrangement Beryl would not be 
lonely, and would be safe from all harm. 

So George was content to go and bear the 
burden alone. He was now strong enough 
to be out and about. He had retained his 
little bachelor room in which he had slept 
in his childhood, while Beryl and her boy 
occupied grander quarters, but she used to 
run to his door, clad in her pale blue dress- 
ing gown, to inquire for him ever}' morn- 
ing directly she got up. 

On the morning after the above-named 
conversation between father and son, there 
was no response to her knock, no answer to 
her loving words. 

" Was he asleep ? was he ill ? was he 
dead?" she asked herself, while a great 



GONE ! 199 



trembling seized her limbs, and her tongue 
was silent from fear. He always locked 
the door, so she could not get in ! and then 
she turned the handle, and to her surprise it 
opened. 

With dread she glanced into the room, 
and spoke — still no answer, no sound. She 
crept on with uncertain, wavering steps, but 
still no sign of life. She turned to look at 
the bed with a chill horror, and saw with a 
sense of relief that he was not there. Where 
was he ? She supposed that he must be up 
and gone down ; perhaps she was late, had 
overslept herself. 

Dear George ! she would lay her head on 
his pillow just where he had Iain, and a 
smile of love took a quick flight across her 
pale face — pale and delicate, and pure as an 
early snowdrop — but it did not last long. 
She saw, while a spasm of apprehensive 



200 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

fear contracted her heart, that the bed had 
not been slept in, that drawers were open, 
clothes evidently selected from, while others 
were left in untidy heaps ; all the debris 
was there which a man always leaves in 
packing up. It came upon her painfully 
and slowly, as she looked round the dis- 
ordered room, that George was gone ! 

Grone ! gone where ? Gone from her ! 
and the blankness of despair settled down 
upon her as she repeated that one word 
which to her meant so much. Gone ! 

And there they found her listlessly sitting 
on the ground, while her bright head rested 
on some of the clothes George had left. 

Her large eyes had grown hollow and 
weary, even in that short time, and as she 
lifted her face she only repeated " Gone !" 




CHAPTER XII. 

DEAD ! 

fHEN George Grafton left his father's 
house it was with an aching void 
in his heart. Conscience told him he was 
right to go away, but his heart clung to 
Beryl and his boy, and the struggle to leave 
them was indeed a hard one. The old 
affection for Kate too was still in his heart, 
but he knew now he would not reinstate her 
as his wife if he could, and he was almost 
distracted with conflicting emotions. Who, 
after all, could have blamed him if he had 
taken his little Beryl again into his bosom, 
and carried her back to her happy home 
in the bright island of Ceylon? Who, 



202 THE HAZELHUEST MTSTEET. 

indeed, George knew who, and went upon 
his way. Will he lose his reward ? 

George Grafton went to London, and 
then took chambers, and began business 
again. He worked hard, and succeeded in 
all he undertook. Miss Ansell wrote to 
him from time to time, with accounts of 
Kate. She had become very weak and 
delicate, but seemed to be fast regaining 
her reason. She had begged Miss Ansell 
most earnestly to tell her the whole story of 
the Mystery in which she found herself 
enveloped, but that good woman would tell 
her nothing till she had written to ask 
George's permission, which he gave, and then 
at last Kate knew all — knew that she had 
never legally been Harry Cartland's wife — 
knew that the man she had loved so madly 
and so blindly had deceived her, had sacrificed 



DEAD ! 203- 



ber to his ungovernable passion ; and ber 
beart yearned towards ber noble-minded 
George, witb tbe sickening knowledge wbicb 
bad come too late to ber, bow far better he 
would bave loved and cared for ber if sbe 
bad but bestowed on bim one-tentb of tbe 
devotion sbe bad given to Harry Cartland. 
Sbe migbt still bave been a bappy, honoured 
wife, wbile now ! and sbe shuddered to think 
of tbe present. 

She thought of George, and of his 
goodness, and learnt to love him with 
a perfect love, made up of respect, 
affection, and earnest repentance, such a 
love as she migbt offer to ber God. Very 
different from tbe passion-tossed, insane 
love she had given the man who had 
ruined ber. 

Her heart still beat wildly when she 
thought of bim. She would never curse 



-204 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

liim for his treachery, but she, a dying 
woman, now gave her new-born purer love 
to the husband she had wronged and lost. 
•She never tired of talking of him to her 
•aunt, and of the Beryl to whom he had 
transferred the treasure which in her blind- 
ness she had thrown from her. 

She thought of her rival with no 
enmity. Kate, with all her faults, was a 
noble woman still. Her greatest wish was 
that Beryl should make her husband happy 
when she was gone — gone, perhaps, to join 
the man for whom she had sacrificed all, and 
who she could now see had been far from 
perfect, although she had set him up as an 
idol, and in her ignorance how she had 
worshipped him 1 

Thus in her last days Kate saw her sin, 
and repented of it to her God, and found 
peace, but of George she had as yet asked 



DEAD ! 205 



no forgiveness, nor of Beryl, whom slie had, 
though unknowingly, injured so deeply. 

Her anxiety upon this point hurried her 
onward to the grave already yawning for 
her. 

One Sunday, looking in her doctor's 
kindly lace, she begged to know the truth, 
how long she had to live? and he had 
broken to her gently that the next " Lord's 
Day" she would spend with Him, and 
weary, world-worn Kate heard him with a 
smile. Peace at last ! peace, after all the 
sin, all the sorrow, all the suffering. Peace 
— peace for her ! 

But Kate, unforgiven Kate, could find no 
rest. She had not asked and received for- 
giveness of the husband she had injured, 
nor of innocent Beryl. With much heart- 
sickness she confided her trouble to Miss 
Ansell, and she, ever ready to do her duty,. 



206 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTERY. 

and mucli softened since first we met 
her set off at once, to see Beryl, tlien 
George. 

When Beryl first realised that George 
for conscience' sake had forsaken her, it 
nearly broke her heart, but George's son 
was still at hand to take her out of herself. 
He must not see her cry — baby George's 
mother must find a smile for George's boy. 
Thus Beryl — broken-hearted Beryl — ^learnt 
to smile again. 

Many months had passed since George 
had left her. The Old Year King had passed 
away, and given up his sceptre to his suc- 
cessor, who was in full swing of Nature's 
brightest time — youth ! 

Spring had come for Beryl as for all the 
world, a time of cheering sounds, sweet 
fresh scents and brightest tints, and though 



DEAD ! 207 



she was still very sad, she gladdened under 
the influence of the joyous season. Still she 
had not heard once from George. The one 
and only letter she had ever received from 
him was worn from constant reading. She 
kept it in her bosom, and when alone she 
would read it again and yet again. How 
happy it had made her ; how she had danced 
for joy, and told her glad news to her un- 
conscious babe upon her knee, to the very 
w^alls, tables, and chairs, and still she read 
the promise that he would come, and tried 
to fancy it was yet to be fulfilled, and so 
took comfort. 

Miss Ansell reached Worham and had an 
interview with Beryl. She had not seen 
her before, and was much taken with her 
gentle and retiring manner. She was no 
" Girl of the Period," as the good woman 
remarked, but one who even our much- 



208 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 



lauded grandmothers might have been proud 
of — and so they might indeed. 

When Beryl heard of Kate's wish for 
forgiveness, and that her end was so near, 
she begged to be allowed to go to her at 
once, that she might cheer the last hours 
of the poor soul, who had sinned, sorrowed, 
and suffered. Beryl was not one to " pass 
by on the other side." So this sweet little 
Samaritan set off on her errand ot mercy 
without delay, while Miss Ansell went on 
to London to seek George. To Beryl it 
was a trial to leave her boy, but ever think- 
ing of others, she would not take liim, lest 
it should bring a pang of sorrow to the 
childless woman to see her bonny boy, 
George's little son ; and with tender heart 
she told herself Kate's life might have been 
different if she had been so blessed, know- 
ing what her child had been to her in her 



DEAD ! 209 



time of trial. Kate's had come and found 
her all alone, no husband's strong hand 
to hold her back as she slid almost imper- 
ceptibly down-hill. 

With such gentle thoughts little Beryl 
reached Maidenhead and Miss Ansell's trim 
cottage, made brighter for poor Kate than 
it had ever been before through the spinster's 
long life. 

Kate was lying on a couch beside the 
window, dressed in her favourite white, 
relieved with crimson, looking wondrous 
handsome with the sun's rays playing about 
her. Her clear white skin was lit up by 
a hectic flush on either cheek, and her dark 
eyes were bright, and looked unnaturally 
large. 

To Beryl's tap, there was a faint " Come 
in," and George's two wives met. 

VOL. II. 14 



210 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

Each looked at the other earnestly, but 
although Kate saw the fairy-like little 
creature before her, and gazed upon her as a 
lovely vision too bright for a being of this 
world, she did so with admiration and 
pleasure, never for a moment dreaming who 
her visitor was. Wliile Beryl, face to face 
with George's legal wife, advanced with 
trembling, hesitating steps, wondering no 
longer that he had so loved this woman — 
glorious, even still, with Death's dark hand 
upon her. 

" Kate," she said, timidly, '' I have come 
to nurse you. Will you have me?" 

The sick woman smiled happily. 

"Who would refuse so good an offer? 
Where have you come from, child ? Earth, 
or heaven ?" 

" I have come from Worham, Kate," said 
BeryJ. 



DEAD ! 211 



A shadow crossed Kate's face. 

" From Worham ! I too have been 
there, the name reminds me of a sad past. 
My parents were both killed there, little 
fairy." 

" Oh, I am so sorry !" said Beryl, ner- 
vously ; "I ought to have known." 

" Known, how should you know, child ? 
You lovely little creature, I wonder if ever 
you will suffer too — suffer, ay, and sin ?" 

Beryl took a chair beside the couch, and 
sat down. 

" You seem to think I am a child,'' she 
said, sadly ; " but I am not. I am not many 
years younger than yourself, and as for 
suffering, I have suffered too : like yourself,. 
I lost both my parents together, they were 
drowned. I thought then every other grief 
through life must be small to me after that ; 
but I have felt my other trial even more 

14—2 



212 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

than that. So you see, Kate, I have suffered 
too. As for sin," a hot blush dyeing her 
snowy cheek — " I wished to sin, and should 
have done so, but for the self-denial of a 
noble man !" 

Kate was watching her with varying 
icolour. 

" Oh, I am so glad you have come, dear 
fairy I you seem to bring a purer atmosphere 
with you. And may I tell you my sad story ?" 

" I know it," said Beryl, " that is why I 
came. I thought I might be able to comfort 
you." 

'' You know it !" cried Kate. " How ?" 

^' Miss Ansell told me," answered Beryl. 

" My aunt ! I thought she was too kind 
to talk about me," said Kate, sadly; "but 
never mind, tell me about the noble-hearted 
man who saved you. Did you love him, 
fairy ?" 



DEAD ! 213 



'' Yes, yes, indeed I did ?" 

** W/to loas he ?'' cried Kate, the hectic 
spots deepening on lier thin cheeks. 

" He was your husband," said Beryl,, 
simply, " George Grafton." 

" And 3^ou are ?" gasped Kate. 

" I am Beryl," she answered, gently. 

Kate hid her face in her hands. It had 
been a shock to her to find this beautiful 
child-like creature was her successor. A 
spasm of almost jealousy contracted her 
heart, and left her white, deathly white ; 
but her true nature soon reasserted itself, 
and she was able to see how good, unselfish, 
and perfect a woman, this girl must be, who 
could put her own feelings aside, and come 
to her, who had been the first cause of her 
great affliction. 

At last Kate emerged from her hand's 
imprisonment, pale and calm. 



214 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

" Berj^l, may I call you Beryl, yoa are an 
angel, and God will reward you for your 
goodness by the best reward you can have 
on earth, a good man\s love. As for George," 
she cried, with excitement, " he is a king 
among men; where could you find his 
fellow? I tell you, child, nowhere. I 
threw the treasure of his love from me. I 
gave up reality for a shadow ; but oh. Beryl, 
it was such a bright shadow ; and I did 
love Harry with such a passionate love ! a 
love that such a gentle nature as yours 
would not comprehend, Beryl." 

" And yet," she answered, her face rosy 
red with proud shame — " and yet I offered 
to stay with George, after I knew I was not 
his wife." 

" You did ? " cried Kate ; and crimson 
Beryl nodded an aflfirmative. " Then you 
are but a woman, after all, like myself,'* 



DEAD ! 215 



said Kate, with a sigh and a smilo ; " and I 
thought George had secured an angel for his 
second wife." 

" I am not his wife," answered the girl, 
with trembling lips. 

Kate took her into her arms and kissed 
her. 

" Poor child ! poor child ! how you have 
suffered ; but it wont be for long, now dear, 
only a few short days, and Greorge will be 
free — free to make you all his own. Beryl, 
and then you will be so happy, it will make 
up for past sorrow ;" and the fair face bright- 
ened at her words. 

"You think he will come back, Kate?" 
she asked. 

" I know it," Kate answered : and the 
two wives were silent. 

Kate was the first to break the silence. 

"I am so glad you came to me, Beryl. I 



216 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

wanted so much to know 3^ou. Forgive 
me for injuring you, though it was un- 
knowingly." 

" I do not see what I have to forgive you, 
Kate. It was Dr. Cartland who brought 
about this sin and trouble." 

" Spare me, Beryl — spare me," cried the 
woman in an agony ; " I cannot hear a word 
against him — of course I know. I know he 
deserves all that you could say against him; 
but remember, I not only loved him but I 
believed in him ; and you will know the 
pain it is to me." 

"Poor girl!" answered Beryl, softly, 
patting the thin hand which she held in 
hers, " I do understand. I can feel for you. 
If George were bad, I should love him, and 
it would be agony to be reminded of it." 

" You forgive me, Beryl ?" 

"Yes." 



DEAD ! 217 



" Will you ask George to forgive me, 
too?" 

" I do not know where he is, Kate;" and 
tears trembled on her long lashes. 

'' He will soon come to yon, now," said 
Kate. "Ask him to forgive me when I am 
gone," she added, faintly. 

Miss Ansell returned that night with a 
disappointed air. 

She had failed to find George Grafton ; he 
was away from town on business. 

She had left a letter at his chambers for 
him ; but he might, she felt, return too late, 
too late to forgive Kate. 

In the meantime Beryl remained with 
Kate, brightening her last hours with her 
love and kindness ; bathing the fevered 
brow; smoothing the bright, dark hair with 
gentle hand ; cheering the drooping spirit ; 
wiping the death damps from her brow. 



^18 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 



A deep affection sprang up between these 
two young women. 

Kate often suffered acutely, and Beryl 
miuistered to lier lovingly. 

The Lord's day had come round again. 

Still Kate was lingering ; the church bells 
were chiming their invite to the Christian 
to come and hear of Christ. The bells had 
rung their changes one by one, and now the 
last gave forth its note — four bells with a 
warning sound — one, two, three, four ! one, 
two, three, four ! ding, dong, ding, dong. 
You'll be too late ; you'll be too late ; you'll 
be too late. 

" Do the bells seem to talk io i/ou, Beryl ? 
they do to me," said Kate's faint and altered 
voice. " It is very hard to breathe to-day. 
You'll be too late ; you'll be too late. I wish 
the bells would say something else, Beryl. 
Can't you find me fresh words to that old 
tune, dear?" 



DEAD ! 219 



" Yes," said Beryl, " many words, Kate — 
Christ loved the world, Christ loved the 
world, will go to it." 

Kate was lying on her couch by the 
window, in a loose white wrapper, with still 
a crimson flower at her breast, pinned there 
by Beryl (for Kate the dying, loved flowers 
yet), and Beryl was perched beside her, 
pillowing the dark head upon her breast, 
her shining hair mingling with Kate's raven 
locks, and the two were a perfect picture to 
look at. 

So thought an unseen observer, who find- 
ing the door ajar had peeped in, and now 
stood with a wildly beating heart waiting, 
trying to regain calmness before he entered 
the room. 

George Grafton — for it was he — never 
forgot that sight ! His two wives ! the two 
women whom he had loved, ay, and still 



220 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTEEY. 

loved so fondly, clasped in each others* 
arms. 

I suppose it never occurred to any man 
before to fall upon such a picture under the 
like circumstances. It was agony and 
pleasure combined, and his feelings were 
impossible to describe. 

As he advanced into the room they both 
looked up, both uttered a faint cry, but it 
was Kate who spoke. 

George gazed at the two beautiful faces 
— both so perfect in their own style — the 
faces he had loved so well. 

" George, forgive me !" and Beryl made 
way for him, and kept to the other side of 
Kate's armless couch. 

George knelt down beside his dying, 
wife. 

Yes ! of the two, she was his legal wife ;. 
her eyes were fixed eagerly on his, awaiting 



DEAD ! 221 



his reply, while hot tears ran races down 
Beryl's fair cheeks. 

George took her hands in his ; he did not 
find it very easy to speak, but words came 
at last. 

" Kate, my wife, I forgive you as I hope 
to be forgiven !" 

She smiled. 

" And now a harder test still, George — 
can you forgive him ?" 

A pause. 

"■ I forgive him, Kate !" — then silence, 
l^roken by Beryl's sobs. 

'' George," went on the dying woman, 
" hold me up, I want to speak !" and he 
supported her with his left arm, while 
with his right he clasped her clay cold 
hand. 

She smiled, a contented, happy smile. 

"I am glad to rest here once more. 



222 THE HAZELHUKST MYSTEEY. 

George. Beryl has been so good to me, 
you will repay her dear." 

No reply. 

" George, don't wait one day after I am 
put underground. I charge you not to let 
any delicacy of feeling for me, prevent your 
atoning for the suffering she has met with 
through me. Be good to her, George. 
She is an angel ; may God bless you and 
your little Beryl ! I love her as dearly as if 
she were my sister ! Promise, George." 

" I promise, dear " (with a choking 
sob). 

Kate smiled gloriously. 

" Will you kiss me ?" 

He stooped over her. 

" George," she whispered, " I know now 
that it is too late, I love you — -i/oic and not 
another." 

Their lips met fondly for the last time. 



DEAD! 



It was the first and last kiss of love Kate 
had ever given her husband. 

Weeping Beryl clung to and kissed the 
dying hand. 

Kate looked from one to the other, and 
placed Beryl's little hand in George's. 

" The bells were wrong, fairy ! it was not 
too late. I am so happy. God bless you 
both !" 

So Kate passed away, and left them hand 
in hand. She had been the only barrier 
between them. 

Site teas dead! 




CHAPTER XIIT. 

CONCLUSION. 




EORGE GRAFTON kept his pro- 
mise, and the day after Kate was 
laid to rest, he took Beryl home to 
himself, having legally made her his wife. 
Very few people ever knew of the Mystery 
which had so overshadowed his life, 
threatening to engulf it in blackest ruin 
and misery, and those few loved George and 
kept his secret. So no finger was pointed 
at George and his wife as a " couple with a 
history." They were very happy these two, 
with the happiness of perfect love, respect, 
and confidence. How different would it 
have been for George, if, looking in Beryl's 



CONCLUSION. 225 



childish face, he had had to reproach himself 
with having tarnished her innocence, but he 
had no such thing to blame himself for, 
and he was utterly and completely happy^ 
contented, and thankful. 

Beryl no longer shunned Kate's name,, 
and she was often talked about by them 
with bushed voice, as one talks of the 
beloved dead. There was no sanctum in 
George's heart noio where Beryl was shut 
out, for she too had loved Kate, and thus^ 
could think of her while they sat, hand 
locked in hand, and hearts beating in true 
response. 

George did not go back to Ceylon, nor to 
business. He and Beryl both loved country 
life ; and they shared it together, living 
in the lovely county of Monmouth, so 
dear with historical recollections, beautiful 
with its wealth of soft sweet scenery and 

VOL. 11. 15 



226 THE HAZELHURST MYSTERY. 

distant blue Welsh mountains, and silvery 
winding rivers. Not far from the revered 
old walls of Tintern Abbey, not far from 
the Wynd Cliff with its dreamy view of 
vapoury distance, taking in so many 
counties, where the river winds so brightly 
among the dark foliage of the trees. Not 
far from all these lovely gifts of God's own 
making lived Beryl and George. 

Baby Greorge, was baby George no longer ; 
but a sturdy little three-year-old, and that 
rosy small bundle of white garments sitting 
on the lawn at Beryl's feet, is little Kate, 
aged six months. It had been Beryl's pro- 
position to name her so, and George had 
kissed his wife, and thanked her for her 
kind thought; so the baby was christened 
Kate. 

What more can be said about them ? 
Except that they were as good as they were 



CONCLUSION. 227 



happ3^ No one in trouble, suffering, or sin, 
ever sought their aid in vain. Would that 
there were more like them ! Surely all 
must leave them with regret ! 

Sydney Saunders is too good a fellow to 
be left out in the cold. He and George 
were friends, fast friends, and of course he 
went down to " Silverbeach," where George 
and Beryl had built their nest ; and the 
time beino^ February, and all the feathered 
tribe " pairing," Sydney felt bound to follow 
in the fashion ; and Laura Grafton being by 
his side, why ! of course, he proposed to 
her. 

Poor Charles Summers never loved again ; 
but as long as he lives little Beryl will 
reign in his honest heart. 

Kate is done with, the last page of her 
history closed ; still, one line must be written 
as an epitapli to her memory. With all 



228 THE HAZELHUEST MYSTERY. 

her faults, she was a queen among women. 
May Grod rest her soul ! 

The elder Graftons are still at Worham,. 
sailing down life's stream together, with 
some of their children yet around them. 

Miss Ansell, you may be sure, is Miss 
Ansell still, and is likely to remain so ; and 
no one has ever yet found out an instance- 
of her having neglected her duty in any 
way. She will be a hard old woman to the 
end ; but George's wife, and George's chil- 
dren, can gain smiles from her flinty lips. 
Yes ! and she often smiles to herself with 
satisfaction, as she remembers that Dr. 
Cartland never took her in. All along she 
had felt that he was a villain ; all along she^ 
had been certain that there was a Mystery. 

THE END.